The $17.8-million Falk Laboratory School—an extension of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education—serves as a private K-8 learning institution.

Perkins Eastman of New York designed a 39,000-sq-ft addition and renovation to the existing 28,000-sq-ft facility built in 1931. The expansion facilitated 21st century programmatic needs and increased accessibility by creating a new school entrance and glazed circulation spine between the existing structure and the new facility.

PJ Dick of Pittsburgh completed construction on the project in June with more than 40 subcontractors and no injuries. It began work in April 2008. The school remained in full operation during all construction phases.

The project employed an extensive Hydrotech green roof system. It was a demonstration project for the region’s first sedum sod product, which allowed the planting material to establish quickly with minimal replacement and meant that stormwater filtration and detention performance was effective from the first day of installation.

Reconstruction of the gymnasium roof required reinforcement of the existing gym foundations. With the position of the gym within 5 ft of a steep wooded hillside, PJ Dick employed a foundation resistance pier underpinning system to minimize excavation and hill disturbance.

The system installed quickly, could be employed in the limited space behind the gym and allowed the building to remain fully occupied while work proceeded.

The team reused and refurbished the original floors, a combination of tongue-and-groove maple and exposed concrete. The existing concrete was patched, ground smooth, stained and sealed with a Retro Plate finish. The final product was a terrazzo appearance.

The existing 1931 building included a significant amount of original plaster walls and ceilings, which the team kept wherever possible, but extensive demolition and replacement of MEP systems did disturb some plaster and had to be patched.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: University of Pittsburgh
Construction Manager: PJ Dick, Pittsburgh
Architect: Perkins Eastman, New York
Civil Engineer: The Gateway Engineers
Structural Engineer: Atlantic Engineering Services
MEP Engineer: CJL Engineering