University of Pittsburgh

Expansion Focused On Sustainability

Located within an assemblage of buildings originally part of the University’s “Acropolis of Learning,” the award-winning Chevron Annex is an air-rights addition to the existing teaching and research Chevron Tower. The Annex humanizes and validates the adjacent Tower’s 1970s architecture while activating the facing campus context by relating to the scale and materiality of neighboring buildings. The addition is a transparent focal piece that engages the campus and places chemistry “on display” in the academic setting.

The addition provides much needed expansion space for Synthetic Chemistry research and is part of a larger effort by the chemistry department to upgrade laboratories within the existing research tower. Included in the project are two new floors of chemistry research, a 30-person computer classroom, new student study and lounge space, a café, and a revitalized main entry lobby to the chemistry department.

Though originally planned for a typical land-use site, the design team took a decidedly sustainable approach by building the addition above an existing structure. This approach allowed the University to maintain campus open space while preserving a grassy hillside. Providing room for the timely expansion of synthetic and analytical chemistry lab space, the addition augments the research setting and improves the undergraduate/graduate chemistry experience through a “ballroom” lab design that is highly functional, efficient, flexible, and safe for students. With evolving program needs, the facility’s robust modular design has future adaptability in mind so that it can be easily retrofitted to accommodate a range of programs.

The project required careful integration of the structure into the auditorium and lobby below, giving the design team the opportunity to renovate the main entry lobby and student study space that had fallen into disuse. Repurposed to create a comfortable and accessible setting for students, the lobby and student study space now offer natural light and views. The café and chalk/talk space within the renovated area contain soft seating and are actively used by faculty for open seminars and informal discussions with students. These lounge areas and the new, visible computer classroom make for an ideal study setting and bring new purpose to the building. The space is so successful, research faculty prefer using it to conduct their office hours.

A High Hazard Occupancy, the LEED® Gold Chevron Annex employs 80,000 CFM of ventilation air to drive 64 chemical fume hoods. Using multiple design strategies, including an open “ballroom” lab design, low flow fume hoods, energy recovery AHUs, smart façade design, daylight harvesting, and occupancy controls, predicted site energy was to 8,236 MMBtu/year. This represents a savings of 2,795 MMBtu/year, or 25.3 percent less than the baseline. This enormous energy savings equates to approximately the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to power 32 single family homes. In AIA 2030 Challenge terms, the Chevron Annex meets the Challenge requirements for its building type.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Building Type

Research Labs, Classroom, Office, Study & Lounge, Café


34,000 SF Addition, 10,500 SF Renovation

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