By Greg Holbrook
September 15, 2017 marked the Annual American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) SteelDay Construction Tour presented by the Pittsburgh SEI Chapter. SteelDay provides the opportunity for individuals from various professions and expertise to see how the structural steel industry contributes to building America. This year’s tour was in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh at the new Empire Apartments Building (Empire Building) mixed-use building complex.
The Empire Building is a 17-story structure with a six-story parking structure holding 381 parking spaces. There will be 723 apartments of one, two, and three-bedrooms with amenities such as in-suite washers and dryers, granite countertops, “robust” internet and WI-FI, a pool and patio entertainment space, and even a golf simulator. The building will also have 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space on the ground floor. The structure boasts great views of adjacent neighborhoods, such as East Liberty, Shadyside, Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, and Oakland and the Universities. Tour participants were able to witness some of these views from the 16th floor level, which included great photo opportunities of the Cathedral of Learning, which were particularly appealing to University of Pittsburgh alumni attendees.
Approximately 35 participants met at the construction field office adjacent to the site to begin the tour. Project managers and members of the team talked about the speed of construction and the requirement to adhere to the project schedule. This included one important detail: Staging of the materials brought on site to minimally impact traffic in Oakland. This was accomplished by closing off a side lane of Centre Avenue thus allowing trucks to deliver materials out of the traffic’s way and then to exit onto the roadway after delivery. The construction began in the spring of this year, and through a time-lapse video everyone witnessed the expeditious foundation and steel construction to date. You can also view the same time-lapse video highlighting the building’s progress.
Attendees also learned that the entire project is being built directly by companies here in Pittsburgh. Sippel Fabrication (Sippel) is the steel fabricator for the project. As some of the SEI members may remember, a past SteelDay event included a tour of Sippel’s facility in Ambridge, PA. Century Steel Erectors (Century Steel) is conducting the building erection and the Massaro Construction Group (Massaro) is the construction manager for the project. Through their collaboration, these three firms showcase Pittsburgh as a leading 21st century “Steel City.” Their work focuses not on past laurels but rather on what is now and what is yet to come in Pittsburgh’s skyline.
2017 was another successful year for SteelDay’s mission: to gather individuals from various industries to share how the Steel Industry contributes to building America. I thank our generous hosts, Massaro, and the local contributors, Sippel and Century Steels for a job well done!