Grable Visitors Center

Grable Visitors Center


Nestled in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood and adjacent to the city’s largest park, the Frick Art and Historical Center is a cultural oasis within the city. In an effort to improve the visitor experience upon arrival and increase its patronage, the Frick requested the design team create a visitor’s center to better orient the five-and-a-half acre site. The new Grable Visitor Center acts as a point of departure to visit the historical Frick mansion, greenhouse, Cafe, Car and Carriage Museum, and Fine Art Museum. As the new anchor for the Frick campus, the 5,000 sf facility houses a ticketing area, reading room, orientation gallery and museum shop.

The contemporary style of the building marries with the traditional building materials that can be found elsewhere on the Frick site and in the neighborhood. The undulating roof and varied heights of the glass respond to the different scales of the adjacent buildings while the locally sourced Pennsylvania sandstone, low iron glass, windows, and doors echo other aspects of the Frick campus.

The inspiration for the Grable Visitor Center was a garden pavilion. The new space is bright, airy, and open. It welcomes visitors and provides views of the entire site. The deep overhang of the roof, brise soleil on the exterior, and interior shading protect the space during the day. 

The light filled interior space is a welcoming respite and is used by visitors exploring the library of books pertaining to Henry Clay Frick, the Gilded Age, and the Pittsburgh area in the Reading Room. Adjacent to the book shelves is the interactive media center that provides information through numerous touch screens about the site’s buildings and the multiple museum collections. The building’s zoned controls are used with highly efficient mechanical equipment to create a comfortable environment for visitors and work space for employees. The project is LEED Certified.

Cherry ceiling slats and casework, sandstone walls, and herringbone patterned slate tile floor create a rich interior palette that is reminiscent of the Clayton, the historic Frick mansion.

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Schwartz/Silver Architects, Inc. (lead architect)
Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects (associated architect)
Siteworks (landscape architect)
Klavon Design Associates, Inc. (associated landscape architect)
Roome & Guarracino, LLC (structural engineer)
Hampton Technical Associates (civil engineer)
Allen &  Shariff Engineering, LLC (MEP/FP engineers)
Renfro Design Group, Inc. (lighting design)
Belle & Wissel Co. (education technology)
Andoniadis Retail Services (retail consultant)



Turner Construction Company



Massery Photography, Alan Karchmer