Senator John Heinz Regional History Center

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center is a multi-function museum, library, archive and educational facility celebrating the rich history of Western Pennsylvania. Commissioned by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, the History Center is housed in a century-old 200,000 sq. ft. restored warehouse.

The building has a plain, muscular quality that bespeaks Pittsburgh's industrial heritage. Originally used as an ice storage facility, its first floor is tall enough to accommodate rail cars that delivered ice. In keeping with its original purpose as an ice warehouse, the building has relatively few and small windows. This is a good match for exhibit areas where a "black box" setting is desired, and for archival storage areas where protection from ultraviolet light is of paramount concern.

The overall design strategy emphasizes the strong character of the building's original structural materials. New systems, such as exposed ductwork, conduit, and low-voltage lighting systems are integrated with the structure while adhering to the same direct, unembellished design approach that pervades the old building. New structural glass walls maintain visually open interior spaces, and establish a clear distinction between new construction and existing building fabric. The resulting amalgam of old and new is a fitting setting for the interpretation and celebration of history in America's foremost industrial city.


1996 Merit Award for Design Excellence
AIA Pennsylvania
1996 Design Award
AIA Pittsburgh
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