The Frick Environmental Center is one of the greenest buildings in the world

The Frick Environmental Center is a welcome facility, education hub, and gateway to Frick Park. Free and open to all, this cutting-edge facility enhances visitor experience and inspires learners to discover one of Pittsburgh’s largest parks.

A project of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh, the Frick Environmental Center is a certified Living Building that has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum. Working in close collaboration with the City, the Parks Conservancy manages and operates the Center and the surrounding 115 acres of the Frick Nature Reserve portion of Frick Park.


Living Building Challenge and the Frick Environmental Center

Living Building Petals

The Frick Environmental Center is a certified Living Building, a prestigious designation awarded to just over a dozen buildings in the world. To achieve this, the Center follows seven categories, or 'petals', throughout its design and concept.

Energy

The new Center runs entirely off of energy provided by the sun and the earth. Designed to use 40% less energy than a building its size in our region, the Center is completely net zero thanks to energy produced on-site through solar panels and hot and cold air gathered from geothermal wells.

Materials

Every material used in the new Center was intentional, having first undergone an extensive vetting process. All materials were sourced from responsible industries, many recycled or locally produced. Elements like black locust siding and interior furnishings made from locally salvaged wood are a nod to native tree species.

Beauty

Certain aspects of the new Center have been incorporated simply for the delight and curiosity of park visitors. Area artists created unique wrought iron gates and features; rotating student art graces the Center's hallway; and inspirational plaques line the balcony overlooking the park. 

Health

A gateway to Frick Park, the Center is a starting point for visitor hikes, as well as our many education programs and events. Natural light and ventilation, local building materials, and active elements like stairs and window openings are just a few ways that the Center is designed for visitor and park health.

Site

Built on the same footprint as the original Center, the new building is a gateway to the park. In addition to operating the Center, the Parks Conservancy works to maintain and enhance the surrounding 115 acres of the Frick Nature Reserve.

Water

Water brings the Center to life, cascading down an outdoor art ravine on rainy days and used throughout the Center after being captured by cisterns and barrels via the Center's roof and solar panels. Rain water is used in the building and in the landscape; on-site treatment safely disposes of waste water.

Equity

The first Living Building intended to be free and open to all, the Center is a public welcome facility. Built to be human scale, fully accessible classrooms, restrooms, and meeting spaces are open for visitors to learn about the natural world. The building itself enhances the surrounding public parkland.

Frick Environmental Center awards

  • 2017 AIA Committee on Education in Architecture Award of Excellence
  • Green Building Alliance Inaugural Leadership Award to Frick Environmental Center, 2017
  • Placemaking Award Winner, Jury Award, presented by Urban Land Institute Pittsburgh, Frick Environmental Center, 2017
  • Regional Excellence in Wood Design, presented by Woodworks Wood Products Council, Frick Environmental Center, 2017
  • Sustainable Project of the Year, presented by Engineers Society of Western PA, Frick Environmental Center, 2017
  • AIA QUAD 2017 Design Awards Honor Award, presented by AIA Quad, Frick Environmental Center, 2017
  • AIA Pittsburgh Honor Award in Architecture, presented by AIA Pittsburgh, Frick Environmental Center, 2017
  • 2017 Excellence in Concrete Construction, 2nd Place Low Rise Buildings Category, presented by The American Concrete Institute, Frick Environmental Center, 2017