Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Major

Architecture

Major Professor

Tricia Stuth

Committee Members

T.K. Davis, James Rose

Abstract

Vacant industrial sites are scattered throughout our cities all across the country. These sites, these remnants of industry, are occupied by a very interesting category of buildings. They are artifacts from an industrial era that served very unique and specific functions. These service buildings suffered programmatic failure and have lost their vitality. They have entered a form of hibernation, waiting for the post-industrial epoch to wake them up.

The building stock under investigation makes up a large portion of the city’s structures. Identifiable by their heroic scale, clean articulated lines and tendency to be vacant, these service buildings raise arguments for both historic preservation and demolition.

The framing of the thesis identifies the environmental opportunities and cultural benefits of salvaging these buildings in the post-industrial city. In the supporting section, architectural tactics are used as filters to examine preservation as it pertains to the material form of industrial artifacts, the culture and heritage of an industrial place, and the evolution of these topics in contemporary times. The investigation focuses on how to assess the value of the artifacts’ material, function and historical significance. This system will suggest answers to the question of how to revitalize these industrial artifacts.

The site for the project is the Produce Terminal Building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Originally a produce yard organized to the function of the railcar, the site evolved to a wholesale distribution center for the entire city. The 1533 linear foot Produce Terminal built to support distribution is considered by some to be a preservation worthy, architectural spectacle in the Art Deco style; by others it is seen as a hard edge in the urban fabric that is preventing development from reaching the waterfront.

To further complicate the site, the building is located in a neighborhood that is currently pursuing Historic District status, which creates tension for prospective developers, newly elected politicians and the residents of the city.

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