Uncovering the Secrets of the Historic US Steel Building in Pittsburgh

US Steel Building AI Picture Generation

When it comes to iconic buildings, few come close to the US Steel Building in Pittsburgh. Located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, the US Steel Building has been a staple of the city’s landscape since its completion in 1970. Standing tall at the corner of Grant and Liberty, the US Steel Building is an architectural marvel that is steeped in history and has played an integral role in the city’s expansion and growth. Let’s take a closer look at the US Steel Building, exploring its unique history, construction, features, and its impact on Pittsburgh’s skyline.  The Steel Building is 841 feet tall with 64 floors.  Prior to completion, the tallest building in Pittsburgh was the Gulf Tower.

Introduction to the US Steel Building in Pittsburgh

The US Steel Building is an iconic skyscraper located in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. Built by the United States Steel Corporation (USX), the building has become a symbol of the city’s industrial past and its ongoing progress. The US Steel Building stands at 841 feet tall, making it the tallest building in Pittsburgh and the fifth-tallest building in Pennsylvania. It is also the seventh-tallest building between Chicago and New York. The building is an example of modernist architecture, with a simplified exterior design and a sleek glass facade.

Historical Background of the US Steel Building in Pittsburgh

The US Steel Building was commissioned in 1964 by USX, the largest steel company in the world at the time. The company wanted to use the building as its corporate headquarters and as a symbol of the city’s industrial heritage. Construction of the building began in 1965 and was completed in1970. The building was designed by architects Harrison & Abramovitz and was constructed by the firm of Turner Construction. The building was the first modern skyscraper to be built in Pittsburgh and was the tallest building in the city at the time of its completion.

Architectural Design of the US Steel Building

The US Steel Building is an example of modernist architecture, with a simplified exterior design and a sleek glass facade. The building’s exterior is made up of two sections, both of which are made of steel and glass. The lower section is a seven-story base, with an open plaza at the entrance and a row of shops and restaurants along the street. The upper section is a 52-story tower, with a glass-enclosed observation deck at the top. The building is also adorned with several sculptures, including a pair of eagles perched atop the tower and a bronze sculpture depicting a steelworker on the building’s facade.

The U.S. Steel Tower has an array of redundant systems, meaning it has been able to avoid unexpected breakdowns since it was built. It is supplied by two separate water mains, one from Grant Street and the other from 7th Avenue, which is fully maintained and examined annually. There is a fail-safe system in place, so that in the event of a malfunction either main will be able to satisfy the water needs of the building. Furthermore, the property is equipped with four redundant water pumps, all of which can meet the demand of the entire building. Additionally, it has four redundant electrical feeds coming from various substations. Lastly, it has two boilers and two water-cooled chillers that make up the fully redundant heating and cooling systems. The boilers can be run on either natural gas or No. 2 fuel oil, and if there is a shortage manual adjustment of the system can be completed in a few minutes.

In 2019, Winthrop Management employed the expertise of sustainability consulting firm evolveEA to obtain LEED Silver Certification for the US Steel Tower under the Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance rating system. This building is one of the largest LEED for O+M: Existing Buildings V4 office buildings globally. Several LEED Certifications were also earned for the interior office spaces inside the tower.

The building does not follow the usual pattern of narrowing in width from the base to the top, like many skyscrapers of similar heights. This anomaly makes the tower the proud bearer of the title “largest roof in the world at its height or above” with an area of approximately one acre. It was previously a heliport, but it has not been used since 1992.

Construction and Completion of the US Steel Building

Construction of the US Steel Building began in 1965 and was completed in 1970. The total cost of the construction was $25 million. The building was constructed using a system of steel frames and concrete slabs, which allowed for the construction of the building’s 64-story tower. The exterior of the building is made up of a combination of steel and glass, while the interior is made up of marble, wood, and aluminum. The building was designed to withstand strong winds and seismic activity, and is capable of withstanding up to 200 mph winds and a magnitude 8 earthquake.

The U.S. Steel Tower boasts over 44,000 U.S. tons of steel and almost an acre of office space per floor. It is architecturally distinctive due to its triangular shape with indented corners and is the first structure to feature liquid-filled fireproofed columns. U.S. Steel intended to demonstrate their new Cor-ten steel product by placing massive steel columns on the exterior. Cor-ten is designed to resist the corrosive effects of weather, eliminating the need for painting and other rust-prevention maintenance. Unfortunately, the initial weathering caused discoloration of nearby sidewalks and buildings.b Although the corporation attempted to clean up the damage, the sidewalks still have a rusty shade. The Cor-Ten steel for the building was produced at the U.S. Steel Homestead Works.

Features and Amenities of the US Steel Building

The US Steel Building is a full-service building, featuring a variety of amenities for its tenants. The building includes a fitness center, conference rooms, a cafe, and a beauty salon. The building also has a large lobby, which is decorated with marble floors and a fountain.  There is an underground parking garage, which offers tenants the convenience of on-site parking.

The Building’s Role in UPMC’s Expansion

In 2007, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) leased five floors of the tower, which now serves as the institution’s headquarters. Along with the agreement was the purchase of 20-foot signs for the top of each three sides of the building for $750,000. This stirred much debate at Planning Commission meetings. On May 3–4, 2008, the “U”, “P” and “C” were installed via helicopter, but weather conditions delayed the installation of the “M” until sometime later, and the sign was completed June 7–8, 2008. Later, LED lights replaced the neon bulbs in the sign in 2019.

Preservation of the US Steel Building

The US Steel Building is an important part of Pittsburgh’s history and its landscape. In 2016, the building was designated as a National Historic Landmark, ensuring its protection and preservation for generations to come. The US Steel Building has also been added to the National Register of Historic Places and has been recognized as an architectural masterpiece by the American Institute of Architects.

US Steel Building’s Impact on Pittsburgh’s Landscape

Steel Building

Since its completion in 1970, the US Steel Building has become an important part of Pittsburgh’s skyline. The building is an iconic symbol of the city’s industrial past and its ongoing progress. The building has also played an important role in the redevelopment of Downtown Pittsburgh, serving as a catalyst for growth and expansion. The Steel Building’s presence in the city has also attracted new businesses and investment, helping to revitalize the city’s economy.

Notable Events at the US Steel Building in Pittsburgh

The US Steel Building has been the site of some important events in Pittsburgh’s history.  The building has hosted several political rallies, including a speech by then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.

The Nativity Scene At The US Steel Building

Every year, the building’s courtyard displays an enlarged version of a nativity scene. Known as the Pittsburgh Creche, it is the only authorized copy of the Vatican’s Christmas crèche that stands in St. Peter’s Square.

The US Steel Building is a Pittsburgh icon and an important part of the city’s landscape. The building has been a part of the city for more than 50 years, and its impact on Pittsburgh’s skyline and economy is undeniable. From its construction to its preservation, the US Steel Building has played an integral role in the city’s history and its ongoing progress. As we look to the future, the US Steel Building will continue to be a symbol of Pittsburgh’s industrial past and its ongoing progress.

Other Buildings in Pittsburgh

The Gulf Tower In Pittsburgh

Union Trust Building: A Timeless Icon of Pittsburgh’s Architectural Heritage

PPG Place in Downtown Pittsburgh – The Jewel of the City

The Koppers Building in Pittsburgh: A Landmark of Architecture and Innovation


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