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Pittsburgh planning commission approves U.S. Steel building

The Pittsburgh planning commission on Tuesday approved construction of the future U.S. Steel headquarters in the lower Hill District, though at least two members still had reservations about its design.

Before the vote, representatives of Clayco Realty Group, the project developer, presented changes to what will be the first building to go up on the 28-acre former Civic Arena site after criticisms that a previous iteration looked too suburban. Commissioner Sabina Deitrick, a University of Pittsburgh urban studies expert who cast the single vote against the plan, called the design of five-story building that will occupy 2.23 acres of land across from Consol Energy Center “really disappointing.”

“There’s nothing outstanding about the building,” she said. “There’s nothing that says this is a redevelopment on a very, very complicated piece of property that’s part of a big, 25-year project.”

Changes presented in renderings to the commission Tuesday include “floating” zinc-colored bands that frame levels of the building; darker brick accents separating retail from work space; a “shift of the masses” to break up the horizontal structure; and a recessed entrance. Chris Cedergreen, chairman and senior principal of Forum Studio, a subsidiary of Clayco, said the new headquarters will support U.S. Steel’s mission and honor its history.

“It’s a very practical building,” he said.

Commission chairwoman Christine Mondor, who earlier expressed concerns that the building did not make a statement bold enough for the steelmaker or the site, acknowledged the work that went into the changes but said, “It’s still a design that needs to evolve.”

Asked if the changes would include any additional costs, Mr. Cedergreen said: “We think we’re able to adjust the cost of the design … to keep everything balanced.” The developer has said that U.S. Steel has set a limit on what it wants to spend on the project and that additional costs related to the design have to be weighed against that. The building’s cost has not been disclosed.

Clayco president Chris McKee said after the meeting that his team expected to hear strong opinions about the building design and did not plan for any more major changes.

“I would say, fundamentally the design is pretty set,” Mr. McKee said. “I expect that there will be tweaks as we go.”

Final approvals from the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority and the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is set for June 11. Clayco hopes to start construction in the fall and have it completed by fall 2017 before the steelmaker’s lease expires in its current headquarters at U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown.

In related news, Hill District residents raise concerns over U.S. Steel headquarters plan.

This article was written by Molly Born from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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