On the south bank of the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center makes a uniquely fresh architectural statement that is also symbolic of the area’s natural environment, including its many rivers and bridges. The center’s roof suggests the form of a suspension bridge, like the “Three Sisters” that cross the Allegheny and connect the North Shore with downtown.
Some observers even see a ship-like form in the overall structure. The facility has 330,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, with approximately 250,000 sq. ft. of it being column-free, and it proudly promotes such features as its natural daylighting, natural ventilation as outside conditions permit, and energy efficiency.
The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is the first green convention center and was the largest building in the world to receive LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
The project, which celebrated its grand opening in September 2003, includes exterior cladding of Alucobond Material manufactured by the Benton, Kentucky, plant of Alcan Composites USA Inc. Phases I and II of the project were previously opened in 2002. Cladding for the Convention Center includes 175,000 sq. ft. of Alucobond Material of 4mm thickness and colors of Pittsburgh White, Convention White and Convention Silver, fabricated into more than 5,000 panels. John W. McDougall Company of Nashville, Tennessee, was the material’s distributor, fabricator and installer. The material was attached using McDougall’s Series 2000 wet seal system.
“The LEED Green Building Rating System™ “is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings,” states the U.S. Green Building Council. Materials and Resources are one important LEED area of consideration in evaluating “the sustainability of buildings,” along with other criteria outlined under Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Innovation in Design “awards additional credits outside of the scope of the standard program,” according to the Council. LEED was launched in spring 1999.
The environmental awareness evident in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is also seen in other parts of Pittsburgh, as a variety of green-built structures show how an area historically known for its heavy industry has evolved. This unique convention center is part of a forward-looking vision for the area that touches convention center visitors as well as residents. New concepts in green building will flow from the innovations at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, just as surely as the Ohio River flows from the nearby confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers. It is only fitting that Alucobond, known as an innovative material, was chosen to be part of this structure. Where the “Golden Triangle” area of Pittsburgh became famous in part for its success with traditional materials, the center is showing how vision and materials can combine in fresh ways.