Building Statistics - Part 1


Building Name: Center for Sustainable Landscapes

Owner: The Phipps Conservatory

Location: Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, 1 Schenley Park Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213


Campus Map with Labels.JPG










Above: The CSL location onsite

Below:The location of the Phipps Conservatory with respect to Downtown Pittsburgh

Occupancy/Function Type: The Center for Sustainable Landscapes will be used as a center for education, research, and administration.


Total Gross Building Area: 24,350 GSF

1st Floor:

11,209 SF
2nd Floor: 11,151 SF
3rd Floor: 1,990 SF

Number of Stories and Defined Use: 3 Total all of which above grade

1st Floor: Business Areas, Educational Classroom Spaces, Assembly without fixed seating, Accessory Storage Areas i.e. Mechanical Equipment Room
2nd Floor: Business Area
3rd Floot: Assembly Space without fixed seats


Primary Project Team

Project Team Role Name Office Location
Owner Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Pittsburgh, PA
General Contractor Turner Consruction Pittsburgh, PA
Architects The Design Alliance Architects Pittsburgh, PA
Landscape Architects Andropogon Associates Philadelphia, PA
Structural Engineer Atlantic Engineering Services Pittsburgh, PA
MEPFP Engineer CJL Engineering Moon Twp. PA
Site/Civil Geotechnical Engineer Civil and Environmental Consultants Pittsburgh, PA


Dates of Construction: November 12, 2010 - April 20, 2012

Contracted Value: $10 Million

Project Delivery Method: Design - Bid - Build

National model Code: IBC 2009

Zoning: "P" Parks District

Architectural Description:

The CSL has a contemporary design and can be described as having linear motifs. Long horizontal floor levels draw one's eyes across rather than upward; a stark contrast to the neighboring Victorian architecture. While large bands of horizontal glass create a transparency that ties the CSL back to its older neighbors.

Historical Information:

Located in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is joining the green Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden community. The neighboring Conservatory and Gardens feature Victorian motifs of steel and glass intertwined with lush green vegetation. The Phipps Conservatory has stood as a cultural and architectural centerpiece of the city since the year 1893. Since its inception the Phipps Conservatory has been attracting national attention. Most recently, the Conservatory played host to the leaders of the world at the welcome dinner for the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit in 2009. The addition of the CSL is a landmark project to not only the Phipps community but the sustainable building community as well.

Building Enclosure:

Windows/Openings: Low-e insulated windows. Light shelves, louvers and overhangs minimize summer cooling loads. Additionally, translucent shades reduce nighttime heat losses and glare from low solar angles. Glazing type, insulated 2 and 3 pain krypton glass.

Curatin Wall System: Facade constructed of reclaimed barn siding for siding and soffit applications, insulated by wood battons, weather barrier, rigid board insulation, metal stud framing, 5/8" glass-mat gypsum sheathing.

Roofing: Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofing covered by a green roof.

Sustainable Features:

On an annual basis, the CSL will be a net-zero energy and net-zero water building. The features are listed below:

  • Passive Solare Design - overall building energy usage minimized through passive design strategies for typical operation
  • Robust Building Envelope - reduces thermal heating losses and gains
  • Desiccant Dehumidification - Utilizes energy that would otherwise be exhausted to pre-treat temperature and moisture in incoming outside air with minimal energy use and without mechanical refrigeration.
  • Building Management System - Direct digital control building management system will control and provide feedback on various systems for optimal energy efficient operations.
  • Solar Photovoltaics and Solar Hot Water collectors - renewable energy system that generates and saves electricity.
  • Vertical Axis Wind Turbines - Renewable energy system generates electricity from wind
  • Natural Ventilation - computation fluid dynamics study determined optimal window location for natural airflow.
  • Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) - uses C02 sensors to measure occupancy and release the amount of ventilation air required.
  • Minimally Conditioned Atrium - 100% passively heated and cooled.
  • Daylighting - light shelves and interior daylight ceiling clouds maximize depth of solar penetration.
  • Sustainable Materials - locally environmentally conscious highly durable and long service life products.
  • Sustainable Landscapes - features all non-invassive native plants.
  • Green Roof - Reduces volume of storm water runoff and pollutants in storm water runoff.
  • Rainwater Harvesting - Storm water basins placed on the upper campus glass roofs and lower site will capture rain water for reuse.
  • Lagoon System - Replicates natural water treatment process that occurs in wetlands and marshes.
  • Constructed Wetland - treat all sanitary water from CSL and adjacent maintenance building.
  • Permeable Paving - for natural infiltration of site storm water.


Building Statistics - Part 2

Structural System
The primary structural building material for the CSL is structural steel. Beam sizes consist primarily of types W12 and W16 made of ASTM A992 steel with a yield strength of 50 ksi. Column sizes consist primarily of HSS 4x4 and HSS 6x6 shapes made with ASTM A500 Grade B with a yield strength of 36 ksi. The CSL is unique in that it is being constructed against a steeply sloped hill. The building’s structural system benefits from this design in that it requires little lateral bracing. Lateral loads that are imposed on the frame are channeled back into the concrete foundation/retaining wall (highlighted in red on Figure 1) that extends to the bottom of the 3rd story and span across 4 of the 8 structural bays in the building. The crane used for the erection of steel was a Terex Model T560, a 50 ton hydraulic truck crane. The cranes location changed with the progression of construction; moving from the western portion of the site to the eastern portion.

Figure 1 - Highlighted in red is the concrete foundation/retaining wall that provides lateral support.

Cast-in-place (CIP) concrete was utilized as a secondary structural component on numerous aspects of the project. Specifically, cast-in-place concrete was used as for foundation footings and walls, a column in the atrium, the atrium stair, Slab on Grade 1st floor, Slab on Deck above grade floors, and a few select concrete walls. Metal reusable wall forms were used for all CIP concrete with the exception of the atrium column and stair; both of which are currently being considered to be constructed out of an alternative material for constructability reasons. Above grade SODs are constructed of 2” composite metal decking with a 3-1/2” concrete slab placed on top of welded wire fabric reinforcing. Due to accessibility reasons, placement of the majority of concrete required the use of a concrete pump. All slabs required the use of Lightweight concrete.

Exterior Wall Assembly
            The exterior wall assembly design fully embodies the sustainable design motifs of the project. Depicted in Image 6, is a cross section of a portion of a typical exterior wall. 2 types of exterior glazing are used, all of which are Sealed Clear Insulating Glass Units (IGU) with multiple Low-E suspended films. Significant variations include; thicknesses of 1-1/2”, 1-1/4”, and R-Value of 10.87, 7.69 respectively.   

Wall Assembly from Outside Surface to Inside Surface

  1. Reclaimed Barn Wood
  2. Wood battons
  3. Air Space
  4. 2” Rigid Board Insulation
  5. Weather Barrier
  6. 5/8” Glass-Mat Gypsum Sheathing
  7. 8” Metal Stud Framing
  8. 8” Fiberglass Insulation
  9. 5/8” Gypsum Wall Board       

Mechanical System
Perhaps one of the most technically advanced systems in the CSL, the mechanical system is a combination of passive and active design. The majority of the building is heated and cooled by one variable air volume AHU supplying a maximum of 12,400 CFM. A geothermal ground source heat pump and enthalpy wheel was installed in order to further reduce the energy load imposed by the AHU. Housed on the north side of the first floor, the mechanical room supplies the AHU with preconditioned refrigerant from the closed loop geothermal system and air pressure to the dry pipe fire suppression system. In addition, other unique design features include a raised floor system for the distribution of supply air, thermal radiant floor heating to provide supplementary heat, and a green roof for increased thermal mass to stabilize the heating and cooling loads. Unconditioned space, such as the large atrium, remains entirely heated and cooled naturally through passive design. Figure 2 & 3 depict the air flow in the passively design spaces..

Figures 2 & 3

Natural Ventilation 1.jpgNatural Ventilation 2.jpg





Electrical System
Due to the new facilities close proximity to the existing Phipps Conservatory; a 600 amp 3 phase electrical service connects the new CSL with the existing neighboring facilities.  Standard voltages of 120/208 and 277/480 are distributed as needed throughout the building via the raised access floor system.  A unique aspect of the electrical system is the large amount of power generated onsite.  A current goal for the building is to maintain net-zero energy use on an annual basis. Onsite generation is primarily composed of three 36 kW solar panel arrays, but also utilizes vertical axis wind turbines to supplement demand. Furthermore, the utilization of a Direct Digital Control Building Management System will provide system feedback for optimal energy efficiency. Aside from having onsite variable power generation, no redundant electrical systems are being installed.

The lighting system is a hybrid of energy efficient LED, florescent lighting, and natural lighting design. The CSL is equipped with a building automation system that controls the amount of natural light that enters a space through a system of moveable sunshades. The dynamic shading system for this building enables the shades to move over the course of a day and year to control the amount of natural light entering the space. The dynamic shading system also maximizes or minimizes the thermal gains when appropriate to reduce the cooling and heating loads.

Excavation Support System
In order to properly protect the adjacent Phipps Conservatory greenhouses and to stabilize excavation, the utilization of a rock tieback system was used on the north side of the building. During construction, the internal support from the tiebacks will provide construction workers with a clear space to operate.  Once complete, the tieback system will remain in place as a permanent component of the building structure. For this project, no dewatering system was required.

Project Delivery System

The CSL was delivered via traditional design-bid-build approach. This approach was chosen because it is a well known project delivery system amongst local contractors. Furthermore, utilizing a design-bid-build delivery system allowed the owner to lock-in a price, prior to the start of construction (making an exception to change orders). The contractor was selected for this project through a private bid proposal.  The contractor, having worked with the owner in the past, utilized knowledge gained from past experiences to their advantage. For the bid, a Bid Bond of 5% of the contracted value was required. The successful bidder was also required to furnish both a Performance Bond and Payment Bond for 100% of the contracted amount upon award.

User Note:

While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work-in-progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Daniel Zartman. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.


This Page was last updated on 4/17/2012, by Daniel Zartman and is hosted by the AE Department (c) 2012