Pittsburgh’s Skinny Building, Roberts Building Could Be Connected to New Structure

Two historic buildings in Pittsburgh’s central business district could be connected by a third structure.

The Pittsburgh Planning Commission heard a proposal on Tuesday that called for renovations to what is commonly referred to as the Skinny Building on Forbes Avenue and the Roberts Building on Wood Street. The buildings would be linked and connected to a new five-story structure to be built at 433 Wood Street, where an existing three-story building would be demolished.

Exact plans have yet to be finalized and no tenants have yet signed on for the development, said DJ Bryant, architect at Pittsburgh-based AE7.

Tentative plans include redeveloping the Skinny Building’s ground floor for food and beverage or retail space, according to Bryant. He said the upper levels would be unoccupied, although plans call for an arts program that would be seen through windows from the street.

The new structure that would be built would house an elevator, restrooms and mechanical space, he said. It could also be used for flexible office space, Bryant said. The plans call for a roof terrace.

The existing buildings included in the development – the Skinny Building and the Roberts Building – will be “refreshed”, Bryant said.

The buildings have never been connected before, as the new development proposes to do.

“These are buildings with a great history,” said Ryan England, architect and historical consultant on the project.

The Skinny Building – which originally housed a vegetable market – was built in 1926. The Roberts Building, which more recently served as 7-Eleven – was built in the 1860s, according to England.

The proposed development aims to bring “appropriate and excellent” restoration to both buildings, he said.

The proposal will likely come back to the planning commission at its next meeting – to be held in September after the commission’s summer recess – for a final vote.

Julia Felton is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, jfelton@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Ida M. Morgan