Perkins Eastman Offices – Pittsburgh

In response to the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic, Perkins Eastman re-evaluated the function of the office to deliver a purposeful reunion space for their team in Pittsburgh.

  • Client Perkins Eastman,
  • size 11,895 sqft
  • Year 2021
  • Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States,
  • Industry Architecture Firm, Design,
  • Perkins Eastman designed their office with inspiration for the changing world while honoring the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Today, fifteen months since Perkins Eastman co-Managing Principals Lee Pellegrino and Jeff Young gathered staff in their studio in the historic Pennsylvanian to outline the firm’s work-from-home pandemic response, Perkins Eastman’s Pittsburgh studio celebrates its relocation to the 25th floor of 525 William Penn Place. “More than just a long-awaited reunion,” says Pellegrino, “with our new studio, we are beginning a new chapter in how we work together, how we learn from each other, and how we grow in our mission of ‘Human by Design.’”

    Perkins Eastman, a global architecture, design, and planning firm, was in the early stages of designing its new space when the coronavirus reached the United States in March of 2020. To accommodate evolving predictions of the post-pandemic “new normal”, the Pittsburgh studio’s workplace design team quickly pivoted, accelerating research and planning, while exploring additional options.

    The bright and airy space is fully democratized. “Each day, our seats are first come, first served. A firm-wide executive director could be sitting next to a summer intern,” says Young. “We welcome these types of relationships because we believe it makes our enterprise better.” In designing the new space, it was especially important to celebrate and promote Perkins Eastman’s creative, collaborative spirit. “We leverage the talent and expertise from across our global firm to operate with a one-firm mindset. In Pittsburgh we collaborate with teams from Chicago to China,” says Pellegrino. “But for the past fifteen months we—and all of our peers—have learned to work almost exclusively remotely. This begs the obvious question: What is the role of the office?” In a word, ‘connection’. “Being together in the space, particularly in a free-address environment, creates opportunities for unanticipated collaboration and mentorship. These serendipitous interactions spark innovation that otherwise would not happen. Our new space provides real and tangible benefits for in-person collaboration that push forward the work and the services we provide.”

    The Maker Box, literally a studio within a studio, is located near the main entrance. Here, Perkins Eastman’s work tools—model-making materials, 3-D printer, and virtual reality station—command center stage. The exterior of the Maker Box, clad in a custom wood pegboard, provides hooks for hardhats and construction vests along one side. A “PEople” wall—a lively display featuring photos and facts about the Pittsburgh staff, adorns another.

    Open workshop spaces lined with felt panels, magnetic whiteboards, and display monitors, provide ample opportunities for teams to scrum together with the design process on full display.

    The beauty in Pittsburgh’s scrappy, resilient history is showcased in myriad ways, from the polished original concrete floors and columns to the high, exposed ceilings and ductwork. Access to daylight and views of downtown and outlying neighborhoods, rivers, and hills provide biophilic benefits. Purposefully designing the layout with a minimal number of walls to situate seating and casual gathering areas along the office perimeter windows creates optimal impact.

    Showcasing the craftsmanship of local artisans and makers was imperative. Key pieces highlight the space, including a custom-made, locally-sourced oak coffee table from Urban Tree, raw-steel-framed mobile whiteboards by Standard and Custom, a ‘Human by Design’ neon light fabricated by local maker Hugh Elliot, and a porcelain tile backsplash by ceramicist Limelight.

    Design: Perkins Eastman
    Photography: Andrew Rugge