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Architectural firms designing building in Junction Hollow decide to merge

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

By Joyce Gannon, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Think of it as what one architect calls "hip industrial": A 4 1/2-story concrete-and-glass technology center where workers can easily park their bicycles, slip in a workout in an on-site fitness center complete with showers and sip coffee in an inviting entry hall.

A schematic design rendering of the Collaborative Innovation Center, view from Forbes Avenue Bridge.

The place is the Collaborative Innovation Center, a 150,000-square-foot facility to be built in Junction Hollow, the long-dormant corridor that lies in the valley between Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums in Oakland.

Construction is set to begin next month, with tenants including computer chip maker Intel Corp. scheduled to move in by early 2004.

"It's not a college campus building; it's not an office. It's a hybrid," said J. Gary Gardner, a principal in the firm that came up with the design for the $31.5 million center.

The design also is the first major collaboration of Gardner's South Side firm, Gardner+Pope, with Point Breeze architects Davis+Gannon. The two companies merged effective July 1 to form Davis Gardner Gannon Pope, which employs 21 and calls the South Side home.

Although their merger was not yet final, the architects made a joint presentation in April to design the Innovation Center. Both firms have a strong reputation for environmentally friendly buildings, including the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, designed by Gardner+Pope and built on the site of a former U.S. Steel mill in Duquesne. Davis+Gannon designed the Pittsburgh Glass Center, a rehabilitated facility in Friendship that teaches and exhibits glass art.

Interior of the Pittsburgh Glass Center was designed by Davis+Gannon. (Brian Maloney)

The Oakland center is a project of the Panther Hollow Development Corp., a joint venture of CMU and Carnegie Museums that aims to spur the commercialization of research at local universities and develop the site between CMU and the museums.

Intel, for instance, has said it would launch a laboratory at the Innovation Center, where it plans to conduct research on computer data storage. The California-based company has temporary quarters near CMU at Forbes Avenue and South Craig Street.

Paul Tellers, an architect for CMU, said he could not confirm other possible tenants at the center. But all of them "will be firms interested in locating in a university district because of the collaborative connections with university research. They will all be technology companies."

That's why the architects designed what they consider to be a very flexible and adaptable facility "that's being designed for the knowledge worker," Gardner said.

The 133,000 square feet of office/research space will be wired so that computer laptops can be plugged in almost anywhere in the interior. The windows will be operable and ceilings will be almost 12 feet high, said architect Kevin Gannon.

The building is being developed by J.J. Gumberg Co. The state pledged $6.1 million to the project last fall, and the remaining costs are expected to be financed through tenant leases.

In addition to accommodating bikers, the facility will have space for 220 cars underneath. Plans also are in the works for a biking trail along the Junction Hollow site, architect Jeff Davis said.

Gardner and Pope, both 51, have been working together since 1991. Their business has specialized in more efficient and healthy "green" building designs since they won the bid to design the Food Bank about three years ago.

"We went to school on that project," said Gardner who actually earned his bachelor's in architecture from CMU in 1974.

Pope holds associate's degrees in applied science and civil engineering technology from Community College of Allegheny County and a degree in community ministry from Geneva College.

Gannon and Davis launched their business in 1994 after working together at McCormick Architects.

None of the projects they expected to design when they got together came to fruition, "But it pushed us out the door; it was very satisfying to take the leap," said Davis, 44, who holds a bachelor's in architectural studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Gannon, 40, earned a bachelor's in environmental design from Miami University of Ohio and a master's of architecture from Yale University.

Besides the Glass Center, Davis+Gannon has done designs for St. Edmund's Academy, WYEP-FM and Clear Channel Communications.

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