Frick Environmental Center, 2019 ULI Global Awards for Excellence Finalist

Image Credit: Ed Massery

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Developers: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh
Designer: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Site Size: 4.19 acres (1.7 ha)


The Frick Environmental Center is the first and only municipally owned, free, and open to the public living building. Located in Frick Park in Pittsburgh, the new Environmental Center replaced one that had burned down more than a decade earlier. The design process involved more than 100 community conversations with more than 1,000 individuals about what the public wanted out of the building. As a result of those meetings, the center now serves as a living classroom and laboratory for thousands of children each year and serves as an example of how nature and society can coexist.

The Frick Environmental Center is located in Frick Park, Pittsburgh’s largest park. Image Credit: Alexander Denmarsh
Frick Environmental Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Image Credit: Nick Lehoux









The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum–certified building is a net-zero water and energy facility that uses reclaimed water, treats its own wastewater, uses a large photovoltaic array to produce more than its required electricity, and was constructed using regionally sourced materials. The Environmental Center incorporates the building’s sustainability features into its community programming, which it provides in partnership with local schools. The center hosts summer camps, story hikes, nature play, field trips, and more to allow children from all over the city to interact with and learn about nature, even if they cannot participate in person. Graduate and undergraduate students conduct research at the center, which also hosts many community events for adults.

The Frick Environmental Center is a net-zero water and net-zero energy facility. Image Credit: Jeremy Marshall
Environmental education programs engage children and residents of all ages. Image Credit: Mark Simpson









The center’s programming aims to include the voices of all Pittsburgh residents. The From Slavery to Freedom Garden highlights a few of the voices of African Americans in environmentalism. The culturally themed programming has engaged more than 400 people who were previously unaware of the center. The Frick Environmental Center has become a community gathering space in which to learn about nature and our environment for all of Pittsburgh’s residents.


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