Press Release: $1.7M RACP Grant Awarded for Parks Conservancy’s Frick Environmental Center

Oct 20, 2016 11:00:00 AM by Scott Roller

The Frick Environmental Center – a project of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, City of Pittsburgh – is on track to be first municipal Living Building Challenge-certified building in the world fully open for public use

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's Frick Environmental Center has been designated as a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) project, and awarded a $1.7 million dollar grant in the latest round of RACP award announcements.

The new Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park is a project of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh. The Frick Environmental Center is designed to be LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified, and is on track to be the first such building in the world that is free and fully open for public use. 

The $1.7 million dollar RACP grant completes the project’s $19 million dollar capital project budget.  Fundraising for building operating expenses and the Frick Environmental Center’s environmental education programming continues in earnest, with sponsorship opportunities still available. “The Parks Conservancy is thrilled at the announcement of the Frick Environmental Center as recipient of this Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant,” said Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy President and Chief Executive Officer Meg Cheever. “The Frick Environmental Center’s design and construction have been a triumph of regional talent, and the nationally-renowned environmental education programming that it hosts is an attraction for kids and adults alike. We thank the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and all our generous partners for their part in making this new civic gem a reality.”

“The Frick Environmental Center is an amazing resource for our city and region, and most worthy of designation as a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program project,” said City of Pittsburgh Department of Parks & Recreation Director Jim Griffin. “The City of Pittsburgh is grateful for both the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s partnership in creating a world-class environmental center, and to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for this grant.  The Frick Environmental Center models the best practices for sustainable design and construction. It demonstrates how the human species can learn and live for the next century."

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act, have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.

The Frick Environmental Center is a project of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, with the Pittsburgh office of national architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson leading a team comprising artists, environmental restoration specialists and engineers, and Pittsburgh-based construction firm PJ Dick. Working in close collaboration with the City of Pittsburgh, the Parks Conservancy will manage and operate the Frick Environmental Center and the surrounding 115 acres of the Frick Nature Reserve portion of Frick Park. A key component of Living Building Challenge certification is local sourcing of construction materials, making the Frick Environmental Center a project focused on regional construction supply when appropriate.

Groundbreaking on the Frick Environmental Center began in August 2014, and construction and primary site landscaping was finished in early September 2016. Site and landscape detailing continue through spring 2017, including a From Slavery to Freedom garden featuring regional plants that enslaved persons seeking freedom used for food, shelter, and medicinal purposes.  In addition to the Center itself, the Frick Environmental Center project includes the restoration of the public gatehouse at the site’s entrance, covered parking area that collects solar energy and rainwater for onsite use, and the reimagining of an allée and historic fountain. The building and site are designed to be key components in the health of the watershed in which it is located, featuring an underground rainwater storage cistern, constructed wetlands, and carefully-selected landscaping flora.

The Frick Environmental Center opened to the public on September 10, 2016

About the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy:

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was founded in December 1996 by a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of Pittsburgh's historic city parks. A nonprofit organization, the Parks Conservancy works closely with the City of Pittsburgh under an official public-private partnership agreement to restore and improve the city’s park system to its full potential. Originally including Highland, Schenley, Frick, and Riverview Parks, the scope of the Park Conservancy’s work now includes a focus on community parks including Allegheny Commons, Arsenal Park, August Wilson Park, McKinley Park, and Mellon Park. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy runs the Frick Environmental Center, and has raised $93 million toward park improvements.

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