Diocesan Judicial Center, St. Paul Seminary

The Diocesan Judicial Center is a three-story masonry building located on the St. Paulís Seminary campus in the East Carnegie neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Originally designed as an infirmary for an orphanage in the 1920s, the building was converted into a dormitory when the orphanage closed. For many years the building was under-utilized. The Diocese asked us to study the possibility of converting the building into a judicial center. The campus is comprised of buildings that are consistent in scale, color, and building material. As a result, we determined any changes to the exterior should not deviate from this uniform appearance. However, we also believed that it was important to make a statement that something transformative and new was happening. With this in mind, we focused our efforts on the design of a diaphanous plexi-glass and aluminum canopy to mark the front entry to the building. This modern yet understated canopy is designed to differentiate itself from the historic building but is scaled and detailed so as to not change the overall aesthetic of the building. Inside, we designed perforated metal signage and custom-designed light fixtures, bringing this contemporary language to the interior. By fitting the design program of offices and conference rooms into the existing floor plan, we were able to maintain many of the original interior partitions, thus saving much of the historic fabric> Additionally, keeping the original partitions avoided the need for significant structural modifications and saved the Owner additional costs. We restored the original millwork and windows as wells as repaired the plaster walls and ceilings. The juxtaposition of the new modern details and the restored historic fabric created a dynamic design and resulted in a refreshing dialectic of old and new.

Owner: Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Area: 15,500 sf
Budget: $3,000,000
Completed: 2003