New 300 Unit Apartment Building Respects its Riverfront Heritage

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The Yards at 3 Crossings – Oxford Development

Designed & Managed by ROCKiT Founder Brian DiPietro while at WTW Architects

The Project:

When Oxford Development Company decided to build a riverfront apartment building at the center of their new 20-acre mixed-use development, 3 Crossings, in the vibrant and eclectic Strip District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, they requested ROCKiT Founder Brian DiPietro be reassigned to the project to ensure its success.

The Yards at 3 Crossings is a LEED Gold, pet friendly, riverfront, five-story wood framed apartment building that sits on top of a one-story open parking garage. The building design is mirrored about a large central common amenity space containing popular tenant amenities including; club room, game room, bar and kitchen, fitness center, business center, leasing offices, package room, dry cleaning pickup center, mailroom, and main lobby area with reception desk. The central amenity space opens up on either side to an elevator lobby leading to the apartment floors above and into the garage for each building wing.

The building wings themselves are L-shaped, opening up towards the river to maximize views of the river for tenants, while the building acts as a visual and sound barrier to the surrounding neighborhood – which is quite loud given it’s industrial heritage. This design creates a natural “backyard” on the river for the complex, away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding neighborhood. The front of the building steps back slightly to create a softer, more residential & pedestrian friendly street edge, allowing for a formal governor’s drive for a formal building entry.

At the time of its completion, the Yards at 3 Crossings had Pittsburgh’s largest rooftop solar array, a testament to the Owner and design team’s commitment to sustainability. The building also served as a set piece for filming of the popular Netflix streaming series Mindhunter.

The Story Behind the Design:

Brian’s intention for the building design is meant to symbolize the heritage of the project site and neighborhood’s history, through the use of materials, colors, shapes, and patterns.

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The design of the Yards at 3 Crossings is intended to be a homage to the site and neighborhood’s rich history in the shipping industry as part of the city’s historic Strip District – home to numerous outdoor markets and wholesale suppliers. The building site itself sits on a site previously owned by local trucking company Pitt-Ohio, while bounded on either side by the Allegheny River to the north, and Railroad Street to the south (which not surprisingly, includes somewhat active railroad tracks).

As a nod to that history, specific building elements were designed to mimic many aspects of the shipping industry, both by rail and truck.

Outdoor concrete patterns mimic railroad ties and rails, alternating wide brown stripes (wooden railroad tie) with narrow black stripes (iron rail), and continue inside with similarly fashioned ceramic tile floors, which continue to the riverfront patio, transitioning yet again to stained concrete as it brings visitors into the building and out to the river.

The front desk, along with feature walls in the game room and club room, consist of custom woodwork taking on the appearance of stacked pallets found in both the truck and rail yards for shipping. The wall behind the front desk and fireplace between the club room and business center consist of fabricated steel panels “riveted” with hundreds of screws to take on the appearance of an old steam engine’s boiler, and the walls between the two spaces are adorned with wallcoverings showing historic train imagery.

These details are carried into the apartment areas too, starting with the transition from the common areas into the apartment lobbies. Overhead signs, reminiscent of a turn of the century train station, hang above the doors into each wing, one saying east, the other west. Upstairs, carpet patterns in the hallway continue the striped look of the railroad ties.

Outside, the majority of the building colors are a copper orange and patina green, to imply the passage of time, and the blending of new and old, living together in harmony – visualized through the natural aging process of copper as it turns from shiny orange to a dull green. These colors are repeated throughout the interior of the building as well to carry the idea throughout the building.

The Yards at 3 Crossings – Oxford Development Company

  • Owner: Oxford Development Company
  • Contractor: Rycon Construction, Inc.
  • Architect: WTW Architects
  • Project Architect: Brian DiPietro
  • Project Manager: Brian DiPietro
  • Delivery Method: GMP
  • Construction Type: Wood Framed over Podium
  • Project Size: 300 Units/ 350,000 SF
  • Construction Cost: $47,000,000
  • Completion: 2016
  • Sustainability Rating: LEED Gold – (LEED BD+C 2009)
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