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GBA, Branch Pattern, & The Highline

The Women+ in Design PGH partnered with the Green Building Alliance for our October Happy Hour. Though it was forecasted to be our last in-person networking event for the year, it was surely one to remember. The event was sponsored by Branch Pattern, the food was catered by Sprezzatura, and our co-hosts were the Green Building Alliance. We had multiple speakers from different aspects of the building design & construction and the LEED certification teams discussing the project. We also got an update from the GBA about their work and recent trip to Greenbuild. A few of the notable highlights from the evening…



ABOUT THE HIGHLINE: Designed by Charles Bickel in 1898 and constructed from 1904 to 1906, the building was conceived as a central point of connection between road, river, and rail transport. Once considered the largest, most efficient cargo warehouse between New York City and Chicago. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 8, 2013.


McKnight Realty Partners converted this massive historic terminal, dubbed “The Highline”, into a creative and chic office/retail complex. The Highline; one of the largest riverfront development projects in Pittsburgh. The adaptive reuse provides a connection between the modern tenant-focused workplace and Pittsburgh’s historic built environment. Aptly named after the High Line in New York City, The Highline features a 500-foot-long elevated green park-like space, complete with lighting and seating, that extends to an overhang with gorgeous views of the Monongahela River and City of Pittsburgh. The spacious complex boasts interior parking for 584 vehicles with electric, bike storage, a public fitness center, and over an acre of green public space along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail to be used for events such as concerts and farmer’s markets. This space is currently home to Friends of the Riverfront, Allegheny County Conservation District, and the Green Building Alliance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



BRANCHPATTERN provided services to guide the pursuit of LEED v4 Core & Shell certification. Women+ in Design board member Julia Wattick provided an overview of the environmental attributes and some of the challenges with the LEED certification. Developing strategies appropriate for a multi-phased, multiple building project site was not an easy task for the historic building. Creating truly high-performing buildings is complex, but Branch Pattern believes that it shouldn’t feel that way for their clients. “Our beliefs are rooted in nature which has taught us that true sustainability sits at the intersection of human experience and environmental stewardship. By working to tackle the complexity ourselves, we make it easier for our clients to achieve their goals.” Source Branch Pattern website


GREEN BUILDING ALLIANCE has always been a collaborative organization that the Women+ in Design has partnered with on various events. The Highline happens to be the current home for the GBA offices and many of the GBA staff were on hand to discuss the variety of important programs they are offering to push the envelope of Pittsburgh’s green building agenda. The team had just returned from Switzerland and a conference with the United Nation’s Sustainable Energy Initiative. You can read all about the award that Executive Director Jenna Cramer received and the impact of their work on a global scale. It is amazing to me that such a small city and small group are making a HUGE impact. We are so fortunate to have such an active and engaged green building council here in Pittsburgh. Not to mention their Women+ in Green events that are a personal favorite.



INDOVINA ARCHITECTS and STUDIO LOKKEN: Dynamic duo Luna Fruensgaard and Ryan Indovina from Indovina Architects and Studio Lokken provided a unique perspective on both the Architecture and the Interior Design of the building. Since we were gathered in the recently completed outdoor meeting and garden space, they also discussed the development of this concept and the many local artisans and makers involved that provided the planters, benches, and bike racks. We also learned that the construction and renovation is continuing as they build out more of the usable office interiors and space. Definitely a project to keep on all of our radar!


THANK YOU to all the members who attended the evening and continue to support our Happy Hour networking events! Be sure to check out and add to the new resource section on the Women+ in Design website. Maybe you have read an amazing article, or podcast, or book that you want to share with the community. Let’s inspire each other! As always, the planning team welcomes your thoughts, feedback, for future sessions, and continued participation.

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