Pittsburgh Opera

DATE: 2008
LOCATION: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
OLD USE: Air brake factory
NEW USE: Opera house


George Westinghouse built the structure back in 1869 to serve as his original air brake factory. The 45,000 square foot building is located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.[1] The plant stopped production around 2000.[2]


Originally known as the Pittsburgh Opera Society, the organization was founded in 1939 and is the eighth oldest company in the United States. In addition to its mainstage productions, Pittsburgh Opera produces a range of programs to engage and enrich the community with more than 20,000 students, families and educators participating in its educational events annually. The internationally renowned Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Program is among the country’s top five training centers for rising opera stars and the administrative and rehearsal space provides for events ranging from free community Brown Bag concerts to concert recitals by world-class opera singers. Pittsburgh Opera’s long-standing commitment to artistic excellence, responsible financial management and good neighborship will play a key role and asset for the city of Pittsburgh.[3]


The new facility has provided Pittsburgh Opera with the space to house the resources needed to better prepare for performances at the Benedum, while opening up a whole new way for the community to experience all the artistry that is part of opera. In an effort to maintain the Company’s mission to enrich Pittsburgh and the tri-state area, the Opera has committed to the use of sustainable methods in the renovation and maintenance of the new headquarters, striving to obtain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Operations and Maintenance Certification in early 2010.[4]

A number of sustainable features are a result of the project renovation; including, the installation of low flow water fixtures, occupancy sensors, efficient lighting, new mechanical equipment, and daylighting. Other elements have influenced the building’s ongoing operations; areas of continued focus include:

  • Recycling
  • Sustainable Purchasing
  • Water Conservation
  • Wellness
  • Employee Education
  • Green Cleaning
  • Building Air Quality Monitoring
  • Responsible Site Management
  • Energy Management and Usage Reductions
  • A Green Practices Team, “Team Verde”[5]

[1]Pittsburgh Opera
[3]Pittsburgh Opera
[4]Pittsburgh Opera

Images courtesy of Pittsburgh Opera, JPC Event Group, and changinggearsRMB.