Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann
NASA Robotics Engineering Consortium
computer model (1994)

NASA Robotics Engineering Consortium

Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann

What has been said of the Software Engineering Institute--that it symbolizes Pittsburgh's metamorphosis from an industrial giant to a research-led economy--might even better be said of this project, a high-technology rehabilitation of an existing industrial complex in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.

Samuel Diescher, a prominent civil and mechanical engineer, designed the earliest building on the site in 1898. Of steel construction faced in brick, the building was massed like a basilica, with lower side "aisles" and a raised central space with clerestory. In 1925 a major addition was wrapped around three sides of the original building, shearing off its westernmost bay. Further additions ultimately extended the complex over a two-block area.

In recent work, large portions of the complex were demolished to secure open land and leave facilities suited to new purposes. Most of the 1925 addition is gone; yet the oldest part of the complex remains. This has been given a new western front: a glass curtain wall that mimics the profile of the original building. New stair towers flank the entry. With floors of offices and support facilities adjoining a high-bay staging area for robots, the building is a larger version of the Field and Mobile Robotics Building on campus.

Unusual site requirements include fields for testing agricultural robots, a pool for testing aquatic robots, and a robust system of fencing, including a so-called "tank wall" barrier, to stop the occasional out-of-control robot.

It is hoped that this project will attract other high-tech businesses to underutilized industrial buildings nearby. Together, these facilities may comprise "Robocity," as envisioned by scientists and architects.

Index of Exhibits

A Campus Renewed