Pittsburgh’s MuseumLab Achieves LEED Gold

Located at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the project is an example of how to achieve both occupant health and energy performance together

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh announced that MuseumLab has been awarded LEED® Gold status for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions in areas including sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
Campus of Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (left), Buhl Community Park (front), and MuseumLab (right)
Credit: © Eric Staudenmaier

Situated in the city of Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood and located adjacent to Children’s Museum in the historic 1890 Carnegie Library, MuseumLab® is a new museum offering growing kids cutting-edge experiences in art, tech, and making. With three exhibit spaces, program and rental space, a host of commissioned artwork and unique camps, workshops and after school activities, and multiple partners, MuseumLab sits at the crossroads of interactive museum, learning lab, and one of the coolest designed spaces in Pittsburgh.

Creating MuseumLab required renovating the building to reveal much of its original 1890 archways, columns, and mosaic floors, and designing a unique space that honors the past while welcoming the future. Construction required various approaches, such as the thermal plaster installation that provided the necessary insulation and preserved the building’s historic interior. In lieu of demolishing uneven layers of deteriorated plaster, the team at Mascaro Construction rehabilitated it by scraping and patching in a way that was both sustainable and cost effective.

Grable Gallery
Credit: © Erik Staudenmaier

“Our green building efforts are an important part of the environment we create for our visitors as well as our community. Being LEED Gold certified confirms that we have done everything possible to nurture learning and inspire our guests in a facility that is highly sustainable,” stated Jane Werner, Executive Director of Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The project was supported by:

  • Design Architect: Koning Eizenberg Architecture: Julie Eizenberg, and John Delaney
  • Architect of Record: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel – Tony Pitassi and Amy Ahn
  • Construction Manager: Mascaro Construction – Jon Machen and Christi Saunders
  • Green Building Alliance: Jenna Cramer and Dario Giandomenico
  • Sustainability consultant BranchPattern: Pete Jefferson, Adam Bertonaschi, Stuart Shell, and Carrie Nakamoto
  • Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Iams Consulting – Jonathan Iams
Make Lab
Credit: © Eric Staudenmaier

“The MuseumLab project embodies so many principles of sustainability, but it is a particularly outstanding example of how to achieve both occupant health and energy performance together,” stated Pete Jefferson, Principal at BranchPattern. “These goals were established by the Children’s Museum early in the MuseumLab project and were then instrumental in guiding the project team throughout design and construction.” Jefferson went on to state that “It is appropriate then that this project represents one of the first buildings in Pittsburgh certified under LEED Version 4, going far beyond the minimums to achieve a Gold level certification. On top of that, the Children’s Museum remained engaged during operations to manage the facility in such a way that they exceeded the energy performance goals of the Pittsburgh 2030 District. MuseumLab is the first existing building to accomplish these goals in Pittsburgh, and by doing so inside a 130-year-old library, they clearly have raised the bar for how we can imagine using Pittsburgh’s existing building stock to benefit future generations.”

Chromatic Passage by Maureen Walsh
Credit: © Eric Staudenmaier

“The construction and renovation work was a key part of achieving the certification. The vision for this project was unique, and Mascaro was very fortunate that we were chosen to be part of team that brought that vision to fruition,” said Christi Lynn Saunders, Mascaro Project Manager. “Mascaro congratulates the Children’s Museum on its vision for this spectacular building. It has become a beacon for sustainability, historic preservation, and most importantly, the future for our region’s children.”

MuseumLab joins Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, which had previously received LEED Silver recognition in 2006.

“The work of innovative building projects like MuseumLab is a fundamental driving force in transforming the way our buildings are built, designed and operated,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, reducing operating costs, and conserving resources while prioritizing sustainable practices and human health. Because of MuseumLab, we are increasing the number of green buildings and getting closer to USGBC’s goal to outpace conventional buildings, while being environmentally and socially responsible and improving quality of life for generations to come.”

In addition to the LEED Gold certification, MuseumLab was recently honored with the 2020 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award on a Construction Project – Rehabilitation for work dedicated to the protection of historically and architecturally significant places.

Manchester Academic Charter School Classroom
Credit: © Erik Staudenmaier

Beyond these two prestigious awards, MuseumLab has garnered national attention and accolades during its first year of operation, including:

  • Recognition as the first building in the United States to achieve a Universal Design certificate from the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) at the University of Buffalo for its design that is welcoming to all.
  • Named a finalist in a competition hosted by South by Southwest, focused on designing for learning environments.
  • Received the Vanguard Award by the Green Building Alliance
  • Received Award of for Special Achievement from PA Museums

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