It’s been an undertaking three years in the making. This past June, the offices of ABARTA Oil & Gas Co. Inc., ABARTA, Inc., Summit Solutions, Shared Financial Services, ThirstMonger, and GTG made the move to a brand new building on Alpha Drive. On the southwestern corner of RIDC Park, the new facility sits perched on a hillside and boasts sprawling views of the Allegheny River.
“With the size of Pittsburgh operations growing to near 80 employees and the current rental property in prolonged deterioration, the need to move was inevitable,” said Jim Taylor, President /CEO of ABARTA Oil & Gas. “The new space has a quietness about it, and the building process could not have been better.”
The planners (Jim Taylor, John Bitzer III of ABARTA Inc., Bill Krahe of Grand View Development, and Dan Rothschild of Rothschild Doyno Collaborative Architects) first came together in September of 2011 with an informal sketch of a simple rectangular structure. However, the space Pittsburgh employees actually experience today is quite different—all thanks to the special collaborative process using methods and tools that allow conversations to become reality and ideas to become material.
“When you give clients the opportunity to become partners in design, the result is everyone’s moving and thinking in the same direction,” said Rothschild. “For ABARTA, we found it was especially effective including nuances of the family business to make the structure not only beautiful and functional but also a space endowed with meaning and history. This building couldn’t be for any other company on any other piece of land.”
Design elements like layered brick bands relate to the strata of the earth signifying a core business (ABARTA Oil & Gas). The building itself, playing off the topography of the site, is actually two rectangular structures joined by an open atrium forming the letter “A” and increasing views of the river.
“We spent a lot of time at the old facility,” said Rothschild, “and it was clear that building was from a different time—we wanted the new space to be completely different.” As a result, the new structure features large expanses of glass and skylights, and each office has windows that open allowing natural light and ventilation. Solar orientation allows the overhang on the southern portion to block sun in the summer and welcome warmth in winter months. To track progress, every other week, Tuesday mornings were devoted to planning meetings and eventually, site visits. This was the time for all the kinks and quirks to be addressed and ironed out. Debbie Rubel, Executive Assistant and project manager said, “Once there was something to walk through, seeing it all come together was really neat. We’d also spot problems like the kitchen cabinets having no drawers and update it in the plan."
The process was not without a few major hang-ups, too. According to Rubel, a wetland on the parcel had to be transplanted from the parcel to a new location, the main power line running through the development had to be rerouted, plates in the ground to monitor settlement delayed progress and during the whole process, the owners of our old rental building filed for bankruptcy.
Despite the setbacks, employees spent weeks organizing, purging, filing, packing and then finally moving over two days in June. “Everyone is thrilled it’s finished,” said Taylor.