U.S. Steel Tower

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U.S. Steel Tower
Pittsburgh-pennsylvania-usx-tower.jpg
Former names USX Tower (1988–2001)
General information
Type Commercial offices
Location 600 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°26′29″N 79°59′41″W / 40.44132°N 79.9947°W / 40.44132; -79.9947Coordinates: 40°26′29″N 79°59′41″W / 40.44132°N 79.9947°W / 40.44132; -79.9947
Completed 1970
Cost $50 million+ ($363.4 million+ today) [1]
Owner Winthrop Management
Height
Roof 256.34 m (841.0 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 64
Floor area 2,300,000 sq ft (210,000 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Harrison, Abramovitz & Abbe
Structural engineer Leslie E. Robertson Associates
Main contractor Turner Construction
References
[1][2][3][4]

U.S. Steel Tower, also known as the Steel Building (formerly USX Tower) is a 64-story, 256.34 m (841.0 ft) skyscraper with 2,300,000 sq ft (210,000 m2) of leasable space at 600 Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the tallest skyscraper in Pittsburgh, the fourth tallest building in Pennsylvania, and the 41st tallest in the United States.

The tower's original name when completed in 1970 was the U.S. Steel Building and was changed to USX Tower in 1988. The name was finally changed back to the U.S. Steel Tower in January 2002 to reflect U.S. Steel's new corporate identity (USX was the 1990s combined oil/energy/steel conglomerate). Although no longer the owner of the building, U.S. Steel is one of the largest tenants, occupying more than 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m2) of office space. The building is located at 600 Grant Street, ZIP code 15219.

History[edit]

In the planning stages, U.S. Steel executives considered making the building the world's tallest, but settled on 840 ft (260 m) and the distinction of being the tallest building outside New York City and Chicago. However, it eventually lost even that distinction to newer buildings erected across the United States. Prior to 1970, the tallest building in Pittsburgh, at 44 stories, was the Gulf Building. Now an office complex known as Gulf Tower, it was the original headquarters of the Gulf Oil Corporation.

The U.S. Steel Tower is architecturally noted for its triangular shape with indented corners. The building also made history by being the first to use liquid-filled fireproofed columns. U.S. Steel deliberately placed the massive steel columns on the exterior of the building to showcase a new product called Cor-ten steel. Cor-ten resists the corrosive effects of rain, snow, ice, fog, and other meteorological conditions by forming a coating of dark brown oxidation over the metal, which inhibits deeper penetration and doesn't need painting and costly rust-prevention maintenance over the years. The initial weathering of the material resulted in a discoloration of the surrounding city sidewalks, as well as other nearby buildings.[citation needed] A cleanup effort was orchestrated by the corporation once weathering was complete to undo this damage, but the sidewalks still have a decidedly rusty tinge. The Cor-Ten steel for the building was made at the former U.S. Steel Homestead Works.

Rockwell International, which had its headquarters in the building, displayed a large model of the Rockwell-designed NASA Space Shuttle in the building's lobby until the company moved its headquarters to Southern California in 1988.

The tower contains over 44,000 U.S. tons (40,000 metric tons) of structural steel, and almost an acre of office space per floor.[5] Currently, the largest tenant of the building is UPMC who occupies 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2) of office space within the tower.[6]

Features[edit]

Water filled columns[edit]

Another view of the U.S. Steel Tower with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center sign.

Although accepted for bridges, etc., exposing structural Cor-Ten in a building was not possible using standard construction methods because steel needed to be protected by concrete or an applied insulation to meet the fire-protection requirements of building codes. Fire protection was achieved for the 18 columns of this tower by making them hollow and filled with a water/antifreeze/rust inhibitor mixture, a technique patented in the 19th century.[7] In another building cited in 1970, the horizontal beams were also hollow and interconnected with the columns, the entire system tested to be leakproof.[7]

Internal systems[edit]

The U.S. Steel Tower features several redundant systems that have allowed the building to remain free of unplanned service interruptions since it was constructed. It is fed by two redundant water mains, one from Grant Street and one from 7th Avenue. Both are fully maintained and tested annually. There is a fail over system in place, and either main will automatically meet the water demands of the building in the event of a failure. In addition, the building has four redundant water pumps, any one of which can meet the needs of the entire building. The building also has four redundant electrical feeds, which come from several substations. Finally, the building has fully redundant heating and cooling systems, including two boilers and two air chillers. The heating boilers can burn either natural gas or No. 2 fuel oil. There is no fail over, but manual adjustment of the system in the event of a supply shortage takes only minutes.

Signage[edit]

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center leased several floors of the tower, which now serves as the institution's headquarters, in 2007.[8] To go along with this lease, the company also purchased new signs reading "UPMC" for the top of each three sides of the building. The Pittsburgh Planning Commission approved the 20-foot (6.1 m) signs,[9] and the majority of the letters were installed via helicopter lift on June 7–8, 2008.

Nativity scene[edit]

The nativity scene displayed in the courtyard during the holiday season.

Each year, a creche or nativity scene goes on display in the building's courtyard. It is larger than the original nativity,[citation needed] and is the only creche nationally to be authorized by the Vatican.[citation needed]

Roof[edit]

Unlike many buildings of similar heights, the U.S. Steel Tower does not taper in width from its lower floors to its higher floors.[10] Accordingly, the tower sports the "largest roof in the world at its height or above",[10] at a size of approximately one acre. This flat expanse was once used as a heliport, but as of January 2012, it had sat dormant for 20 years.[10]

High Point Park proposal[edit]

An organization known as the High Point Park Investigation [2] was formed to explore the possibility of converting the dormant roof of the U.S. Steel Tower into an attraction of some sort—a "pinnacle of perspective where people go to see the view, a signature landmark like the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building".[10] This transformation could take the form of a nature park, a gallery space, or some other type of attraction. The High Point Park Investigation is based at Carnegie Mellon University's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and has received the endorsement of regional organizations including the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and VisitPittsburgh.com.[10] A 360-degree, gigapixel panorama of the view available from the building's rooftop can be seen at http://www.gigapan.org/gigapans/47373/ or www.gigapanorama.org. As of January 2010, the building's owner had expressed no interest in developing the roof of the tower,[10] but public interest in the potential of such a project has been high.[10]

In March 2013 a group of architects and designers finished detailed plans for a glass covered 2 floor atrium at the top of the skyscraper, however the building management has not responded thus far to requests for potential construction.[11]

Sightseeing[edit]

On clear days, it is possible to spot the U.S. Steel Tower from as far as 50 miles (80 km) away, from the top of Chestnut Ridge in the Laurel Highlands southeast of the city.

Fictional portrayals[edit]

The view from the 62nd floor of the U.S. Steel Tower.

The U.S. Steel Tower makes an appearance in the movie Dogma and figures prominently in Sudden Death, Boys on the Side, Striking Distance, and the video for the 2010 rap song Black and Yellow. It can also be seen in the movie The Dark Knight Rises. It is the setting for the Syfy network's series of web shorts, The Mercury Men. It can also be seen in George A. Romero's 1978 horror film, Dawn of the Dead.

The Tower has also been portrayed in multiple video games set in and around Pittsburgh. It can be seen in the Fallout 3 downloadable mission pack The Pitt. It is also viewable in The Last of Us sporting the letters "NA" at the top instead of the usual "UPMC".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Toker, Franklin (2007). Buildings of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: Chicago: Society of Architectural Historians; Santa Fe: Center for American Places ; Charlottesville: In association with the University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0-8139-2650-5. 

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
Gulf Tower
Tallest building in Pennsylvania
256 metres (840 ft)

1970-1987
Succeeded by
One Liberty Place
Preceded by
Gulf Tower
Tallest building in Pittsburgh
256 metres (840 ft)

1970–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
BNY Mellon Center
Pittsburgh Skyscrapers by Height
256 m (840 ft)
64 floors
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Westinghouse Tower
Pittsburgh Skyscrapers by Year of Completion
1970
Succeeded by
Centre City Tower