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Point Park University's Pittsburgh Playhouse

An artist's rendering of the new Pittsburgh Playhouse.

A classic theater viewing experience in Downtown Pittsburgh

The new Point Park University Pittsburgh Playhouse will be located on a 1.6-acre parcel on Forbes Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh, within an officially designated redevelopment zone, as well as the Pittsburgh Center Keystone Innovation Zone.

Alongside other ongoing development efforts in this section of Downtown Pittsburgh – including PNC’s new world headquarters, and The Gardens at Market Square by Millcraft – the Playhouse will revive a dilapidated and underused corridor that connects the Grant Street business and finance hub with historic Market Square. It will serve as a gateway between Grant Street and Smithfield Street, and beyond.

The new Pittsburgh Playhouse will be a 24/7 operation with three different  academic theatre spaces, a large scene shop, sound stage, prop shop, costume shop and café.  It will become the heartbeat of downtown Pittsburgh.

The community will be invited to watch 100 percent of production in the making, from the large windows on Forbes and Fourth Avenues to the large windows and stage doors inside.

The new Pittsburgh Playhouse will provide students and faculty with the academic facilities that a program of this caliber deserves.  It also will contribute significantly to Point Park’s growing campus in downtown Pittsburgh.

The rundown

Gallery: The new Pittsburgh Playhouse

Campaign: The University is announcing a $74 million campaign for the Pittsburgh Playhouse project, which includes site assembly, a very generous parking arrangement and a maintenance endowment. It will cost $54 million to build and furnish the playhouse.

To date, the University has completed $46.7 million in funding, including $14.5 million from Point Park University, its trustees and campaign leadership, corporate gifts totaling $18 million, a $5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant and $8 million in foundation gifts.

Including the sale of the playhouse in Oakland and gifts that are pending, the University will need to raise an additional $20 million to complete the project.  The $18 million in corporate gifts comes from a group of corporations and represents significant investments from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., the PNC Foundation and Highmark Health.

Size: Plans for the facility incorporate two historic structures — the University Center and the Stock Exchange Building — and a new, five-story, 92,000-square-foot addition.

Sustainability: The building will be LEED-certified and the Stock Exchange Building will be restored and used as a key part of the project. While the structural condition of the buildings at 320, 322 and 330 Forbes Ave. will not allow the existing facades to be preserved in their current location, the University has a plan to meticulously deconstruct them and reinstall them in the public outdoor courtyard. 

A reputation for preservation

Point Park University’s Academic Village Initiative has laid out a vision developed by the community, regional stakeholders and the University for positive growth.  The University has worked to reinvigorate Wood Street, the Boulevard of the Allies and the Forbes Avenue corridors with projects that support academics while also complementing the history, honoring the architecture and developing a strong economic future for the neighborhood.

A campus stroll down Wood Street offers a tour of urban architecture, stretching from the classic terra cotta details of century-old West Penn Hall at First Avenue to the historic bank building that houses the University Center between Fourth and Forbes Avenues.

“Point Park is honored to be the steward of an extraordinary collection of turn-of-the-century properties,” President Paul Hennigan said. “These buildings have been lovingly restored over the years, giving each a new place in the vibrancy of Downtown.

The new Pittsburgh Playhouse will continue in the same tradition of historic preservation and creative reuse.

Point Park’s University Center, which will be a part of the completed Pittsburgh Playhouse project, already has been extensively restored and maintained as a vibrant library and facilities for the Cinema Arts program. The center is made up of four buildings, the oldest of which dates back to 1893.

Also part of the Playhouse will be the historic Stock Exchange Building, which was designed in 1903 by Charles Bartberger. Part of that work will entail removing a flat ceiling, added in 1940, to expose the building’s original stained glass coffers.

While the buildings at 320, 322 and 330 Forbes Ave. will be deconstructed to make way for the Playhouse, their most historic features — the facades —will be a significant part of the two-story, outdoor courtyard. Point Park has been working with Landmark Design Associates from the beginning, and LDA has been documenting the facades for careful dismantling and reinstallation.

“The historic value of the buildings rest in the terra cotta ornament on the facades, and we have concentrated our preservation efforts there,” said Ellis Schmidlapp, president of LDA.