Updates on the Frick Environmental Center Project

January 1, 2016 by Pittsburgh Parks

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, began construction of the new Center in August 2014. Follow along here for regularly posted updates on the progress of this exciting project.

Construction hours are Monday through Friday, 7am - 5pm. In order to complete construction as soon as possible crews may work additional hours, including evenings and weekends as needed.


Week of September 5

The doors of the new Frick Environmental Center open to the public Saturday, September 10th! Don't miss this grand public celebration from 10AM until 6PM.

This week, crews are finishing projects around the site in anticipation of the public celebration. The temporary education trailers at 1 English Lane will be removed. Expect to see crews painting street lines throughout the evening of Tuesday, September 6th. Furniture is being moved in to the site, landscaping work continues, and construction fencing will be removed at the end of the week. 

Week of August 29

The pedestrian entrances to the new Center are coming along quickly. This week, work continues on the permeable pavers and sandstone pavers are being installed. Projects at the north gatehouse are beginning, as is sealing and waterproofing of the fountain.

Week of August 22

As we get closer and closer to the public celebration on September 10th, the new Frick Environmental Center continues to come to life. This week, concrete pours continue, backfilling takes place, and permeable pavers will be installed.

Week of August 15

With the incredible amount of rain coming down in Pittsburgh recently, it seems appropriate to be installing the piping and wiring on the Center's new rain barrels, infiltration areas, and trees. This week work is also being done on the pavement around the Gatehouse and sidewalks. 

Week of August 1

This week, we're welcoming the rain as the rain barrel assembly and piping continues. The bridge to the building will be getting conduits and wiring for lighting, as well as piping and wiring for the fountain. Landscaping continues and preparation for grating at South Gatehouse begins.

Week of July 25

As we head into the hottest days of summer, we're excited to see the solar panels in place to soak in all of the rays. This week, the parking space lines under the panels will be painted. Sidewalks will be poured, and the fountain's plumbing will be connected. Landscaping and work on the fountain continues.

Week of July 18

This week, the new Center will be getting many of its trimmings: Sinks, faucets, and moulding, to be exact. The counter tops, office furniture, and front desk are also being put in place. Wood furniture for the new Center was designed and developed over the past year with local woodworkers who used lumber salvaged from site to create original pieces for the new building. Landscaping throughout the site continues.  

Week of July 11

Let the sun shine! Solar panel construction is underway at the new Center. These panels will not only shade the parking area and keeps cars cool, it will be capturing solar energy to be used on site and in the new building. Permeable pavers are also installed in the parking lot to capture excess rainwater. 

Week of July 4

As we near closer and closer to the opening weekend, the Center continues to look more complete each week. This week, concrete for the sidewalks and the remaining rain barrel pads will be poured, site lighting will be installed, and top soil and seeding continues. 

Week of June 27

Bring on the rain; the first step in the rain barrel installation begins this week with the pouring of the foundation pads. Site lighting will also be going in, as will the sidewalk layout, topsoil and seeding of the south and west site areas, and door hardware. Visitors will also notice a much more open site as the project trailer is removed and the dumpster relocated. 

Week of June 20

Going up! Elevators are being delivered and installed this week. Also, the fountain foundation wall will be poured, electrical and plumbing trim will be installed, topsoil will be trucked in for the amphitheater, and racking will be stalled for the PV panels.

Week of June 6

Park visitors can expect to see the parking lot being paved and the PV array being erected this week. The fountain's trenching and piping will be worked on, as will the stone plinth, interior painting, and the entrance glazing. Please be aware that crews will be working on site this Saturday, June 11th.

Week of May 30

Inside the Frick Environmental Center, things are starting to look more and more finished. Ceiling grid and tile installation has begun, as well as installation of ceramic tile in the restrooms and ceiling and window trim in the stair tower. Walls in the upper level are also starting to be painted.

Week of May 23

As we head into summer, outdoor work on the site is moving along quickly. Additional grading at the parking lot area will take place this week, as well as piping of the rainwater reclamation system. Plinth stones are being set at the amphitheater is also being installed.

Week of May 16

As the weather continues to warm, more and more outdoor projects will be undertaken around the site. This week the parking lot and curbs will be paved and poured, footings for the fountain will be poured, and installation of fountain equipment will begin. Ceramic tiling will also start on the interior restrooms.

Week of May 9

This week on the site you'll see a new guardrail on the balcony, paint on the exterior steel columns and channel, excavation for the fountain, and the pours for a final site retaining wall and fountain reservoir pad.

Week of May 2

This week crews work on concrete pours for a site retaining wall footing. Forming began for parking lot curbs as trenching and piping installation work began for the fountain.

Week of April 25

Work continues this week on many aspects of the new Frick Environmental Center. Installation of the sandstone art feature began as trees and other plants are being planted around the site. Trenching, piping and rain barrels are being put in place. Projects around the building include installation of vestibule curtain walls and drywall finishing.

Week of April 18

The new Frick Environmental Center building and landscaping is looking more complete each and every day. This week watch for the finished forming of the artist's installation beside the building, the start of formwork for the rain swale north of the building, roofing on the barn, new trees, and installation of stormline piping north of the building. Work on the interior of the building will include framing, electrical work, piping and duct work, and installation of weather protection to protect workers and installed materials from cold temperatures and moisture. 

Week of March 28

This week, we're saying goodbye to the construction trailers! The water feature is taking shape as a sidewalk is poured around it. Prep work is also happening for the delivery and planting of 100 new native trees. Black locust siding continues to be installed. Stormwater solutions such as stormpiping, infiltration areas, and a rainwater harvesting system are also being put in place. 

Week of March 21

With the start of spring, crews are taking on more and more outdoor projects on site. Exterior soffits are being primed, excavation for Infiltration Area #3 and PV footings continues. The installing of a detention area sub base has started. Much is happening with the water feature as form work, reinforcing, and sandstone installation begins. Expect to see crews out on Saturday. 

Week of March 14

The spring weather is allowing the construction team to make big strides on outdoor projects this week. Installation of Stacy Levy's sandstone water feature piece is underway as installation of black locust siding continues. The on-lot sewage treatment system is being put in place while earthmoving and site work prep for landscaping begins.

Week of March 7

Progress is being made both inside and outside of the new Center. Outside, the black locust siding continues to be installed, as well as a conduit (for primarily electrical service) along Beechwood Boulevard. Wiring, cabling and electrical projects are ongoing this week. 

Week of February 29

The Center is looking more and more finished as each week passes as installation of the black locust siding continues. Over time, the siding's now-blonde color will naturally mature to a more gray color.

This week, installation of a public art piece by Stacy Levy begins, as well as excavation for an infiltration area. Visitors and neighbors will see more cars parked along Beechwood Boulevard because the parking lot is closed due to excavation. Work on roof flashing and interior electrical work is ongoing.

Week of February 15

The Center's site is visibly different this week. Quite a bit of earth-moving activities have started as grading projects are taking place to prepare for upcoming concrete pours. Installation of infiltration areas has started. Construction trailers will be moved around to accommodate all of the grading activities.

We're most excited for the installation of the gorgeous black locust siding, starting now and projected to be complete in a few weeks. Once this and other sheathing, air/moisture barriers and weather protection are complete, visitors will be able to view this permanent exterior of the building. 

Visitors may also notice work being done at the entrance to Falls Ravine Trial at Beechwood Boulevard, close to the site of the new Center. Carried out by the City of Pittsburgh Forestry Department and Department of Public Works, this tree removal project aims to clear dead, dying, and invasive trees to restore forest health. Please follow posted detours. 

Week of February 8

This week on site, roof flashing has continue and a felt moisture barrier is being installed on exterior sheathing. While the weather is cold interior electrical work will be taking place. Interior and miscellaneous exterior framing continues

Week of January 25

While the weather has been unseasonably warm, crews have gotten a chance to install roof flashing and caulk exterior concrete. Work was also done on mechanical/electrical items and interior drywall.

Week of January 18

This week crews are working almost exclusively inside the new Frick Environmental Center. They will begin installation of drywall and mechanical/electrical features of the building.

Week of January 11

Crews have completed the directional boring for the on-site sewage treatment. With the cold temperatures creeping in, crews will be moving much of the work on the building indoors.

Week of January 4

Returning from the holidays, crews are continuing to work on gypsum wall board installation, electrical, and mechanical projects throughout the new Center. Vestibule steel will soon be installed on the bridges, as well as directional boring for the on-site sewage treatment. This boring will involved some trail detours; signs will be posted throughout the park. Work will need to continue through Saturday, January 9th.



Week of December 21

As the holidays approach and we experience unseasonablywarm weather, work carries on at the Environmental Center. Mechanical piping and insulation have been installed in the basement, while miscellaneous framing at the Upper and Lower Levels have been completed. Ground face block at the North face of the building has also been installed.

Week of December 7

Recently, installation of stormline piping North of the building and the artist's installation West of the building has been finished at the new Frick Environmental Center. Formwork for the rain swale has started. Work continues on framing the interior of building and insulation piping and ductwork at the building interior. The barn's roof has been installed, as well as weather protection for the winter months.

Week of November 23

A number of exciting building features were finished in time for the Thanksgiving holiday this week. The drip irrigation field, barn steel decking, and temporary winter protection has been installed. Crews will be working on the layout for the artist's installation, storm line and drain basin layout, and the swale this week.

Week of November 16

Starting this week, the drip irrigation field, an exciting feature of the new Center, begins. Please note: This work will affect a portion of the South Clayton Loop trail. The trail will be detoured from November 18th through 25th. Crews will be working on Saturday, November 21 to complete the work on the field in advance of the cold weather. For visitor safety, we ask that trail users only use designated trails and avoid crossing construction barricades.

Week of November 9

The warm and relatively dry fall weather brought the opportunity for excellent progress at the site. The interior stairs of the building were installed, and will be used during construction to continue to move materials and equipment inside the building. The Installation of the building's water meter vault was begun, and water to the site has been temporarily shut off until the final connection is completed. The concrete weir wall was poured, and workers continued to install ground face veneer block at the barn. Work on roof soffits continued, and as well as installation of the building cavity insulation, exterior sheathing, and supports for the black locust siding that will be visible from the building’s main entrance.

Week of November 2

The beautiful fall weather continued this week, and substantial progress was made on key components at the Environmental Center site. The building envelope underwent installation this week. Preparation began for installation of the drip field, a system that will recycle clean wastewater into the ground. Expect temporary trail detours around South Clayton loop where work will be done on the drip field starting Monday, November 9th.

Week of October 26

The week leading up to Halloween was anything but scary at the Frick Environmental Center construction site. Great progress was made as the east bridge concrete slab was poured, as well as the foundations for the weirs along the north side of the building. Installation of the ground face veneer block at the barn was begun, and plumbing piping work in preparation of the water meter vault was started. Several valves on the primary line that feeds the water meter vault were relocated. Installation of the interior metal stairs is underway, and we look forward to the steel for the barn roof to be delivered in the coming week.

Week of October 19

Significant progress was made laying CMU block at the barn and installation of wood windows. Underground electrical conduit connecting the Centerand Barn was installed, as well as roll-on air and vapor barrier at the building. Installation of the cascadia clips that are used to secure the exterior black locust has begun. East bridge beams were poured and installation prep for the interior metal stairs began.

Week of October 12

Installation of the windows continued this week and the Barn's floor slab is being poured.

Week of October 5

Preparation for the wood windows (framing, blocking, and barriers) were a focus this week. Framing for the curved roof soffit also started this week and will continue next week; it's really starting to take shape. Columns were poured for the East bridge. Installation of CMU block foundations started at the Barn, along with underslab MEP rough-in and subbase (gravel). Some site utility inlets were set this week, and the excavator started trenching for site stormwater piping along the East side of the building.

Week of September 28

Roofing is ongoing but delayed by the rain. A subcontractor will be working on Saturday to prepare for window installation next week.

Week of September 21

Footings at the Barn have begun, as well as block Barn foundations. Mechanical equipment has been set at the Basement. All structural pours at the West bridge have been finished.

Week of September 14

The structural pours at the west bridge of the building have been completed;east bridge foundations have begun. All building slab pours (interior and exterior) have been completed.

Week of September 7

Backfilling of the project's underground rainwater cistern continues. Part of the project's electrical vault has been set, and footings for the Barn's walls and storage yard retaining wall have been poured. We continued to rough-in items on the building's interior and started hanging wall board at above-ceiling locations.

Week of August 31

This week the concrete slab and site retaining wall at the West bridge was poured.

Week of August 17

The Frick Environmental Center site has been pulsing with progress this week. Work on mechanical, plumbing, and fire protection rough-in continued, as did framing for the upper and lower levels of the site. The basement level has been prepped for the concrete slab on-grade to be poured. Placement of the ground face block veneer on the south side of the building has begun, and preparation work for the West Bridge concrete - which will be poured over the next several weeks – continued.

Installation of the underground electric duct bank for the northern portion of the site is now underway. The delivery of a 15,000 gallon rainwater harvesting cistern was a sight to behold, and prep work for its installation continued.

And, in our effort to make certain that park users can still utilize as much of Frick Park as possible while construction continues, this week saw the Department of Public Works prepare to reinforce the access trail to the South of the Frick Environmental Center site.

Week of August 10

Columns have been poured for the West bridge and the deck for the bridge is prepared for its future slab concrete pour. Our mason has started installing ground face block which will be the exposed finish material at the basement south wall. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing subcontractors have started roughing in pipe at all levels of the building and the interiors subcontractor has

Week of August 3

Columns have been poured for the West bridge and the deck for the bridge is prepared for its future slab concrete pour. Our mason has started installing ground face block which will be the exposed finish material at the basement south wall. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing subcontractors have started roughing in pipe at all levels of the building and the interiors subcontractor has started installing metal framing in preparation for hanging drywall.

Week of July 20

This week a major site retaining wall was poured, our second slab pour for the Lower Level. Radiant piping was installed and tested in the Lower Level, and installation of two of the horizontal loops tying the bore wells together has been completed.

Week of July 13

Despite all of the rain, work at the site has been moving quickly. The sanitary system's manholes are finished and word on the main water connections has begun. Soon horizontal piping at the bore field will begin.

Week of June 29

This week was busy at the Frick Environmental Center site, with significant progress accomplished on several fronts. Testing was completed on the radiant piping system on the Upper Level, while radiant piping on the Lower Level was installed. Concrete forms were built and concrete was poured for the foundation for a major retaining wall, and installation of the site's sanitary system - including placement of manholes and trenching for sanitary piping – was begun.

Week of June 15

Radiant piping installation has begun! This process, in which a glycol solution is pumped through piping in the floor to heat the building, results in less energy being used to heat. Many of the parts for the sanitary sewer manholes were delivered this past week, and their size - approximately 4’ tall and 5’8” in diameter - made their unloading a sight to behold. The warm, sunny weather is perfect for a walk on the shady trails of Frick Park. If you enter the trails from Beechwood Boulevard, stop and look up to your left and you will see the forms of the amphitheater stairs taking shape. Beyond the amphitheater area you will see a large hole for the foundations of the water feature and retaining walls.

Week of June 1

Major progress has been made on the new Frick Environmental Center site in recent weeks. Metal decking for the floors has been installed, and concrete for the amphitheater’s stormwater weir has been completed. Concrete forms for the stairs in the woodland amphitheater are now being constructed. Utility work at the site will continue in the coming week, so here's hoping for dry weather!

Week of May 11

The structural steel is complete, with the highest steel beam placed at a ceremony attended by local, regional, and state elected officials. With the structural steel complete, crews have started work on metal decking on the building.

Week of April 27

Drilling of the geothermal bore field wells has been completed. The structural steel for the building will be completed this week, with a special beam signing and final beam placement Friday, May 1st.

Week of April 6

Steel columns and beams have started to be erected this week. Drilling of the first circuit of six geothermal wells has been completed. The first permanent storm structure and concrete footings have been placed. Also completed was foundation wall waterproofing.

Week of March 23

A foundation wall and formwork are being poured the week -- the last wall pour. Backfill preparations are being made along the North facade of the building in preparation for the crane for steel work. Crews will be on site Saturday this week.

Week of March 9

This week a footing was poured to allow temporary installation of shoring. We continued to backfill in preparation of site work starting in late March. The crane that was assisting concrete work was removed and a new crane will be erected later for steel work.

February 16 - March 9

The construction site is closed due to extreme cold.

Week of February 9

Footings for the Outdoor Classroom, shear and retaining walls at the lower level have been poured. Some forms were stripped and some scaffolding was shipped off site this week.

Week of February 2

This week, crews installed rebar and poured walls and vestibule footings for the lower level of the building. Starting on Saturday, February 7th, crews will be working on Saturdays in February to stay on schedule.

Week of January 26

Despite the frigid temperatures and snow, much was accomplished at the site this week: lower level concrete walls and footings were formed and poured, and backfilling and excavation for lower level footings continued. Work was begun on shoring lower level walls in prep for further concrete work.

Week of January 19

Since completing the basement level walls and removing the stair and elevator formwork, this week the construction of the lower level footings and walls begins. Work on the foundation wall waterproofing and insulation is nearly complete. Backfill of the basement to lower level continues, as does the foundation drain placement.

Week of January 12

This week the new Frick Environmental Center has reached its full height! According to tradition, an American flag has been erected on the top of the building to celebrate the building being topped off.



Week of December 29

This week has been used to prepare for and support backfill activities. Elevation drains are being installed along with a second layer of waterproofing at the basement foundation walls. Installation of formwork continues at the core; only one pour is left before the building reaches its full height.

Week of December 22

This week saw a flourish of activity on site with significant concrete pours: walls at the southwest corner of the basement and the third lifts of the elevator and stair cores. Concrete ties at the core formwork were removed and access for the team to begin placing and compacting backfill at the basement level was created. The site will be closed on 12.25.2014 and a reduced crew will be working on 12.26.2014 in preparation for next week.

Week of December 1

This week, the forms for the second level concrete walls are being formed and additional concrete is getting poured.

Week of November 17

Despite the frigid weather, there was substantial progress this week as the molds for the stair towers were moved away from the building footprint, revealing the poured concrete steps. While the week’s low temperatures did not allow more concrete to be poured, construction of forms for other concrete portions of the foundation was started and are now in place.

Week of November 10

This week, the form work for the lower level of the new Frick Environmental Center is wrapping up and the first cement pour begins.

Week of November 3

This week saw the completion of the footer, as well as the placement of formwork for the lower level in preparation for concrete pouring. The excavation and removal of clean fill has been completed.

Week of October 27

This week the weather was perfect for considerable progress in pouring concrete to create the base of the new Frick Environmental Center. The foundation continues to take shape, with footers poured around the stair tower and elevator housing portions of the site. A small crew will work on Saturday, October 25, to assemble the formwork for the elevator and stair towers to prepare for construction of the walls.

Week of October 20

This week the weather was perfect for considerable progress in pouring concrete to create the base of the new Frick Environmental Center. The foundation continues to take shape, with footers poured around the stair tower and elevator housing portions of the site. A small crew will work on Saturday, October 25, to assemble the formwork for the elevator and stair towers to prepare for construction of the walls.

Week of October 13

With the building footprint completed, building contractors have started pouring the concrete foundation before the colder months.

Week of October 6

Safety fencing along Beechwood Boulevard has been erected to provide a safe buffer between construction vehicles and park users. The building footprint continues to take shape.

Week of September 29

Work on the building footprint continues and the form of the new building can be seen clearly from surrounding trails. A temporary trail connecting Clayton and Nature Trail has been created by Department of Public Works crews.

Week of September 22

The amazing weather this week allowed for excellent progress! The building footprint continues to take shape, and the grading of the amphitheater area of the site is underway. Updated trail detour signs (including map that shows the temporary trail connecting Clayton Hill trail and South Clayton Loop) with directional arrows guiding users to Beechwood Boulevard are now in place at key trail points near the construction site border.

Week of September 15

The site has been prepped for the main building and storm water detention areas. It is now possible to see where the main Environmental Center building will stand. Digital image documentation of the construction site has begun, and will continue throughout the construction period. Trail detour map has been updated, and installed on the bulletin board at the entrance to Falls Ravine Trail.

Week of September 8

Building demolition is finished and site demolition has begun. The circular fountain has been disassembled and stored for post-construction reinstallation.

Week of September 1

Demolition of the old Environmental Center is complete! Materials from the old Center are now being sorted, recycled, and upcycled.

Week of August 11

After 12 years, construction of the new Frick Environmental Center begins. Phase One – Site Mobilization and Deconstruction – starts this week. Read about the Phase One construction here. Construction fencing will be installed, remains of the old Center will be removed, trail detour signage will be placed, and construction site preparation will begin. Overall, there will be four construction phases that will continue for an estimated 24 months.

Week of August 4

There will be some temporary trail closures during construction, which will be marked in the park. The Environmental Center parking lot will be closed during construction. Parking will be along both sides of Beechwood Boulevard. Construction hours will be 7:00am - 6:00pm Monday through Friday. There may be times when construction extends later than 6pm if there is a safety issue that needs to be addressed or if critical work needs to be completed immediately. We will work hard to keep this to a minimum.

Trails affected by construction:
  • Beechwood Boulevard trails entrance. Pedestrian park access is now located at the Beechwood entrance of Falls Ravine Trail.
  • North Clayton Loop (trail starts/ends at guardhouse on Forbes Avenue). Trail is open at Forbes Avenue entrance. The trail, which did end at the old Environmental Center parking lot, ends at the construction fence.
  • South Clayton Loop (trailhead was at old Center's parking area). Trail now detours around southern side of the construction fence and ends/begins at the trail entrance on Beechwood near the gatehouses.
  • Nature Trail (trailhead was at old Center site). Accessible via the South Clayton loop


Week of August June 16

In preparation for the start of construction, trailers formerly used to support education programs will be removed from the old Frick Environmental Center site. New temporary trailers have been installed at One English Lane off Beechwood Boulevard near the Stan Lederman Field. These will remain for the duration of the construction period. The location for the temporary trailers was selected by individuals, civic leaders and community group members at a public meeting held in the fall of 2013.

Ninety-five trees will need to be removed to allow for construction. These will be replaced with nearly 200 new native trees. Of those to be removed, 25 percent are invasive species.