Prove your humanity

For the grand opening of a new building, normally organizers wouldn’t be hoping for rain. But it wouldn’t be surprising if the people behind the new Frick Environmental Center are rooting for a gloomy Saturday. That’s because if the forecast cooperates, the center’s first group of visitors will get to see one of the building’s wildest new features in action: An 80-foot “rain veil” that cascades off the side of the building anytime Pittsburgh gets a decent storm.

Even on a sunny day, there will still be plenty for fans of innovative design and green tech to gawk at. Highlights include solar-panel covered parking areas, a rainwater collection system and geothermal wells that heat and cool the building. In fact, the whole center is a net-zero building, meaning it actually produces as much energy as it consumes. And organizers say when everything’s done, it could be the greenest municipal building in the world that’s free to use and open to the public. It’s even on track to be Living Building Challenge certified—the most rigorous green building certification on the planet today.


The grounds around the new environmental center provide additional outdoor space for both education and recreation. Photo: Jeremy Marshall / Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy


The “rain veil” in action. Photo: Scott Roller / Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy


Solar panels double as a roof for the covered parking area and a power station for the building. Photo: Scott Roller / Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

The center, which is a joint project of the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, will host the conservancy’s youth environmental education programs, and also has classrooms and meeting spaces available for public use. And the grounds outside have been redesigned too with water features, small forests, produce and native plant gardens, and art installations that compliment the nature-focused design of the building.

Grab a tour, preview some of the conservancy’s environmental education programs, check out some music and entertainment, or sample some fare from local food trucks starting at 10 a.m. Rain or shine. But, maybe, hope for rain.


The new Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park will be open to the public on Saturday, September 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check out the full lineup of grand opening events here, or read more about the new center’s design features here. Photo (top): Jeremy Marshall / Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy