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The Gardens at Market Square moves forward; Downtown Restoration Program uncovers history

The Gardens at Market Square, the latest plan for redeveloping Downtown's Forbes Avenue, will continue to move forward as the Millcraft Industries project has gained the approval of the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission.

The planned $81.8 million complex includes an 18-story office tower and hotel, and a 10-tier above-ground parking garage.  A revised design of the structures passed with a 5-0 vote last week.

Design revisions include changes to materials, like a lighter stainless steel frame, and a visual break between buildings, now appearing as individual segments rather than one massive structure.

Lucas Piatt, of Millcraft, says his company wanted to create a contemporary structure that complemented the historic structures in Market Square, rather than produce a replication.

“We think it is important to honor the history that Market Square embodies,” Piatt says.  “We are well vested in the square…so we fully under that and we did our best to accommodate those concerns that we heard.”

The project’s next step is to go before the city planning commission for final approval.  If approved, Millcraft hopes to begin construction this fall, with a projected completion of early 2014.

And in the neighborhood surrounding Market Square, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) is proceeding with the restoration of several historic structures, as part of Mayor Ravenstahl’s Downtown Restoration Program.

At the corner of Forbes and Wood Street, PHLF has removed the orange metal paneling that had covered the building there, revealing a handsome stone structure.  Built in 1930 in the early Modern style, it was designed by the Pittsburgh firm of Hunting, Davis & Dunnells.  Its first and longtime tenant at the ground level was a Stouffer’s Restaurant diner.

The Mayor’s $4 million program also includes restoration of three cast-iron storefronts on Wood; the Thompson Building on Market Street; and a stone building at the corner of Fifth and Wood, along with two historic buildings on either side. 

PHLF has taken bids for contractors for each of these projects, which they plan to review with the City and make a decision on over the new few weeks.  PHLF President Arthur Ziegler says construction should begin within several weeks.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lucas Piatt, Millcraft Industries; Arthur Ziegler, Al Tannler, PHLF
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