Frick Environmental Center Moves Into Final Construction Phase

FEC construction spring March 22 2016 (mulitivista)

A recent view of the Frick Environmental Center shows black locust siding

By Scott Roller, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

On track to be one of the greenest buildings in the world!

Falls Ravine trail is one of most popular trails in Frick Park, and for good reason. Once you descend from Beechwood Boulevard into Falls Ravine Trail’s gently rolling terrain, the sounds of traffic and city life drift away, and there’s a great change. You’ll see wildlife scurrying as you make your way towards the thick of Frick Park’s 644 acres. With no internal roads for traffic – unique in our city parks – Frick Park is a wonderful way to make time stop. But if you’ve been on the Beechwood side of Falls Ravine Trail recently, you’ve seen proof that time is indeed moving onward. The Frick Environmental Center site has been rising for the past two years and this spring has shown dramatic progress as the construction’s final phase is underway.



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Volunteers build protective deer enclosures to surround newly planted trees near the Frick Environmental Center site

Scheduled to open in the latter half of this year, the most visible exterior sign of the progress of the Frick Environmental Center is the black locust exterior siding. Keep an eye on it over the next year and enjoy the color changes, as it is designed to weather to a hue and finish that will blend with the surrounding landscape. Trees – including black gum, tulip, red maple, pawpaw, flowering dogwood, and eastern redbud – have been planted on the site and lovegrass and winterberry are now flourishing. Nearly 100 of the approximately 365 trees and shrubs that will be planted on the site’s landscape are now in the ground. You may also notice that the construction trailers have moved to the outside of the gatehouses and fence. This move is necessitated by the construction of the parking lot area of the site, including concrete bases for the photovoltaic (solar) installations. The solar energy captured by these panels is an important component of the Frick Environmental Center’s net zero energy status, meaning it will produce as much energy as it uses.


Significant progress is also happening inside the building as the finishing touches are being put into place. Interior walls are now enclosed and detailing work on floors is now underway. Final wiring and ductwork is being put into position and ceiling enclosure prep work has begun. Balcony railings – featuring quotes by nationally renowned environmental writers – are set for installation in the coming weeks. The site’s barn – featuring restrooms, storage for environmental educational programs, and gardening and site care equipment – is also entering its final phase of construction.



Designing and building a LEED platinum and Living Building Challenge certified building is not an easy task,but the Frick Environmental Center is on track to become one of the greenest buildings in the world. “It’s definitely been an amazing journey. It’s shown how essential good partnerships are to a project like this – both with the community and with the city and our design and construction team,” said Director of Education Marijke Hecht. “I’ve loved seeing how ideas that originated in community meetings years ago have come to life in the building and site. And the enthusiasm of the City (of Pittsburgh), our construction team PJ Dick, our landscape architects LaQuatra Bonci Associates, and architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has been hugely exciting. Everyone knows we’re all working on something really special.”



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Volunteers worked on the trail in front of the Frick Environmental Center site during 2016 Earth Day volunteer event

For regular updates on the construction status of the Frick Environmental Center, visit

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Preserving, Improving, and Celebrating the Quality of Life in Squirrel Hill

For over fifty years, the Coalition has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.


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