Magazine article Journal of Property Management

The Crown Jewel of Pittsburgh: PPG Place Is an Iconic Complex That Has Helped Define the City's Skyline

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

The Crown Jewel of Pittsburgh: PPG Place Is an Iconic Complex That Has Helped Define the City's Skyline

Article excerpt

It's not every day that you see a castle standing amidst an urban skyline. But you may think you are seeing just that when you catch a glimpse of PPG Place in downtown Pittsburgh.

Opened in 1983, PPG Place is a 1.5 million-square-foot complex that spans six acres across three city blocks. Located adjacent to the city's historic Market Square, the complex includes six Class-A office buildings. A 40-story skyscraper serves as the focal point of the complex, which also includes a 14-story building and four six-story buildings.

"The complex is known to the Pittsburgh community as the skyline's 'crown jewel,' not only because of its size, but because of its striking architectural detail," said Andy Wisniewski, Vice President of the Pittsburgh Division of Highwood Properties, which owns and operates the complex.

The tower's iconic spires--which can be seen from a slew of vantage points throughout the city--are the defining features of the property, giving the building its castle-like appearance.


When corporate growth was thriving and downtown building was booming in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, PPG Industries recognized an opportunity to boost its profile. The company commissioned the construction of PPG Place to serve as its new corporate headquarters.

The complex was designed by John Burgee Architects with renowned architect Philip Johnson. The architects' neo-Gothic elements paid homage to the city's history with its gothic design elements, which were inspired by the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning and the Allegheny County Courthouse. At the same time, the complex's glass and steel design helped modernize the city's skyline.

The complex also provided PPG with an international stage to highlight its products; the company gave its products a starring role in the building design. Specifically, the exterior of the complex utilizes nearly one million square feet of energy-efficient PPG Solarban 550 reflective glass and the tower lobbies boast PPG Spandrelite Glass.

PPG owned and operated the building for over 25 years before Highwoods Properties acquired PPG Place for $180 million in 2011. With the purchase, Highwood committed to giving the local icon a refresh that would expertly carry it into its next phase of life.

Since the acquisition, Highwood has invested more than $41 million in capital upgrades, including a new and larger ice rink in the property's outdoor plaza, a refurbished plaza water feature with new LED lights, lobby enhancements and updated elevators and HVAC systems.

Today, PPG Place remains one of the most popular properties in the city for tenants, residents and tourists. "The property's location couldn't be better," Wisniewski said. "It is in the most active and vibrant sector of downtown Pittsburgh's Central Business District. The complex is also adjacent to Market Square, which offers entertainment, restaurants and residential properties."


While the glass and steel complex has come to define the city's skyline, the complex's outdoor plaza displays the city's soul. The one-acre plaza hosts a variety of public events and houses outdoor attractions, including an ice rink and water feature. …

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