PPG Place

Coordinates: 40°26′23″N 80°00′12″W / 40.4398°N 80.0032°W / 40.4398; -80.0032
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One PPG Place
General information
TypeCommercial offices
Architectural stylePostmodern
Location1 PPG Place
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°26′23″N 80°00′12″W / 40.4398°N 80.0032°W / 40.4398; -80.0032
Construction startedJanuary 28, 1981
CompletedApril 11, 1984
CostUS$200 million
($606.5 million today)
OwnerHighwoods Properties
ManagementHighwoods Properties
Antenna spire193.55 m (635.0 ft)
Roof166 m (545 ft)
Technical details
Floor count40
Floor area1,499,983 sq ft (139,353.0 m2)[1]
Design and construction
Architect(s)Philip Johnson
John Burgee
DeveloperJohnson/Burgee Architects
Structural engineerLeslie E. Robertson & Associates, R.L.L.P.
Main contractorMellon Stuart Construction and Blount Brothers Construction, Joint Venture
Other information

PPG Place is a complex in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, consisting of six buildings within three city blocks and five and a half acres. PPG Place was designed by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee.

Named for its anchor tenant, PPG Industries, who initiated the project for its headquarters, the buildings are all of matching glass design consisting of 19,750 pieces of glass. The complex centers on One PPG Place, a 40-story office building. Groundbreaking ceremonies occurred on January 28, 1981. The complex buildings opened between 1983 and 1984, and a dedication ceremony took place on April 11, 1984. Total cost of construction was $200 million ($606.5 million today). The buildings were sold by The Hillman Company to Highwoods Properties in 2011.[citation needed]


The complex as seen from Mount Washington.

The project was started by PPG Industries (formerly Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company) to serve as the company's headquarters, after being based in Downtown Pittsburgh since 1895.[6] The company contracted the project to architect Philip Johnson and his partner John Burgee. Designed in the neogothic style but with modern innovations, the complex had many inspirations, including London's Victoria Tower,[7] and H.H. Richardson's Allegheny County Courthouse and Charles Klauder's Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh.[8] Before the building was constructed, an 8-foot-tall, 600 pound model was pieced together in Tarentum, Pennsylvania by Renato "Reno" Chieruzzi in the basement of his home. Glass for the model was cut at the Ford City PPG works.[9]

During demolition and preparation of the site, a team of University of Pittsburgh anthropologists collected over 10,000 artifacts dating to the 18th century in what was the Kings Garden and Kings Orchard about 1,000 feet from the gate to Fort Pitt, as well as many medical instruments denoting facilities in the area. The team also discovered several stone-lined wells and cisterns dating to around 1800 that were subsequently filled with refuse and artifacts in the early 1800s as the early settlement expanded and the wells went dry.[10] The site was the home of the four-story Guskey's Department Store for much of the 20th century.[11]

The buildings are recognized by their 231 glass spires, with the largest one 82 feet (25 m) tall. Also notable are the surfaces of reflective insulating glass, that served to advertise the project's founder. The buildings contain over one million square feet of PPG's Solarban 550 Twindow - 19,750 pieces. The primary building, One PPG Place, is a 40-story tower, with PPG Industries occupying half of the space. The complex also contains a 14-story building, and four 6-story structures. PPG Industries also uses space in one of the other buildings. The lobby of One PPG is a 50-foot (15 m)-high entrance that features red glass. The building has 21 elevators, each with walls constructed of clear glass panels enclosing fractured glass. In total, the complex cost $200 million.[6]

The design of the building not only made it distinct, but created high energy-efficiency. Heat in the summer is reflected away from the building by the glass, while in winter infrared heat is reflected and contained within the building. The surface walls feature a barrier construction that effectively separates the interior walls from the exterior. The building also collects heat from computer equipment and recycles it throughout the structure.[6]

Construction of the building highlighted Pittsburgh's "Renaissance II period", which saw the Pittsburgh economy falter as a result of steel mill closures, while Pittsburgh Plate Glass remained a Fortune 500 company.[12]

Office space opened in August 1983, the retail shops opened in November 1984, and the complex was dedicated on April 11, 1984.[13]

Buildings and public spaces[edit]

PPG Place buildings surrounding the public plaza

PPG Place sits on six city blocks (5+12 acres, 22,000 m2) bound by Forbes Avenue and the Boulevard of the Allies on its north and south sides, and Stanwix Street and Wood Street to its east and west. The complex consists of six buildings, which surround an open-air plaza:[14]

  • One PPG Place, a 40-floor building with a height of 635 feet (194 m), and a total capacity of approximately 1.5 million square feet (140,000 m2).[15] This is the tallest building in the complex, serving as the complex's centerpiece, and as of 2020 is the third tallest building in Pittsburgh.[15]
  • Two PPG Place, a 6-floor building.
  • Three PPG Place, a 6-floor building.
  • Four PPG Place, a 6-floor building.
  • Five PPG Place, a 6-floor building.
  • Six PPG Place, a 14-floor building with a height of 223 feet (68 m).[16]

One PPG Place includes the Wintergarden, an 8,000 square feet (740 m2) event space with vaulted glass ceilings.[17] While the Wintergarden is part of One PPG Place, it does not sit within the 40-story tower portion of the building. Instead, it is attached to the side of the tower, facing Stanwix Street.

PPG Place is directly adjacent to Market Square, creating a large and popular public space in downtown Pittsburgh.

PPG Place Plaza[edit]

The Rink at PPG Place

The one-acre (4,000 m2) PPG Place Plaza sits between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue.[18][19] The plaza features a fountain with 140 water jets and uses 280 underground lights. Opened in 2003, it was designed by WET and SWA Group landscape architecture and urban design.[20] At the center of the fountain is a pink granite obelisk.

During the winter months, the plaza is converted into an ice skating rink. The rink opened on December 10, 2001, and has become a popular seasonal attraction in downtown. A 60-foot (18 m) Christmas tree is in the center of the rink. At 13,456 square feet (1,250.1 m2), the surface is over 6,000 square feet (560 m2) larger than the famous rink in New York's Rockefeller Center.[21][22]


Upon completion of the project, architectural critics and the media called PPG Place "the crown jewel in Pittsburgh's skyline," "the towering success of downtown Pittsburgh," and "one of the most ambitious, sensitive and public spirited urban developments since Rockefeller Center."[6] In 2006, readers of the Pittsburgh City Paper voted PPG Place as the best building in Pittsburgh.[12]

In 2005, when the vacancy rate of downtown offices was around 20%, PPG Place was between 87 and 89% full. The management company was able to attract out-of-town corporations to relocate operations to Pittsburgh. News America Marketing, a subsidiary of News Corporation, occupies 5,800 square feet (540 m2). Local Kennametal Inc. rented office space, and LandAmerica Financial Group relocated several area office locations to the 12th floor of One PPG Place. Carnegie Mellon University operates alumni relations from the complex.[23]

In popular culture[edit]

One PPG Place served as the company headquarters and hideout of Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "One PPG Place". Skyscraper Center. CTBUH. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
  2. ^ "Emporis building ID 121943". Emporis. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016.
  3. ^ PPG Place at Glass Steel and Stone (archived)
  4. ^ "PPG Place". SkyscraperPage.
  5. ^ PPG Place at Structurae
  6. ^ a b c d "Downtown: PPG Place". Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Archived from the original on October 17, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  7. ^ "One PPG Place". Glass, Steel, and Stone. Archived from the original on August 17, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  8. ^ "PPG Place, Pittsburgh PA". Galinsky. 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  9. ^ "Museum program touts role of PPG on local glass industry". Julie Martin. 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  10. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HblPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=agYEAAAAIBAJ&dq=pittsburgh%20skyscraper&pg=7119%2C6661225[bare URL]
  11. ^ "The Digs: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Dec. 8, 2006: Ice and glass at PPG Place The". Pgdigs.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  12. ^ a b Rosenblum, Charles (December 16, 2006). "Best Pittsburgh Building: PPG Place". Pittsburgh City Paper. Archived from the original on January 7, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  13. ^ "Architectural Notes". Grubb & Ellis Management Services. 2008. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  14. ^ "About PPG Place". PPG Place. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  15. ^ a b "One PPG Place". The Skyscraper Center. Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Six PPG Place, Pittsburgh". Emporis. Archived from the original on January 16, 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  17. ^ "About the Wintergarden". Wintergarden at PPG Place. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Plaza and Water Feature at PPG Place | PPG Place". PPG Place. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  19. ^ "The Plaza at PPG Place". Grubb & Ellis Management Services, Inc. 2008. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  20. ^ "The Water Feature". Grubb & Ellis Management Services, Inc. 2008. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  21. ^ "MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place". Highwoods Properties. 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  22. ^ "The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center". NYC Tourist. 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  23. ^ DaParma, Ron (October 16, 2005). "PPG Place attracts tenants in slow market". The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved December 19, 2008.[permanent dead link]

Further reading[edit]

  • Franklin Toker, Buildings of Pittsburgh, Society of Architectural Historians, Chicago, Center for American Places, Santa Fe, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 2007. ISBN 0-8139-2650-5

External links[edit]

Preceded by Pittsburgh Skyscrapers by Height
635 feet (194 m)
40 floors
Succeeded by
Preceded by Pittsburgh Skyscrapers by Year of Completion
Succeeded by