Innovation Research Tower. Rendering courtesy of Walnut Capital.

Innovation Research Tower, Oakland

Oakland is the nerve center of Pittsburgh’s medical and technology sectors, though it’s long dealt with the issue of being short on space. This challenge is being met by going vertical. For 2020, expect to see Walnut Capital’s 268,000-square-foot Innovation Research Tower rising 10 stories above Fifth Avenue, across from Carlow University. It will be designed to house offices and lab space for tenants yet to be determined. There will also be room for retail space, some of which will be dedicated to community-focused retail managed by the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation. Currently, the space is home to a number of unremarkable low-rise offices.

Bakery Square Refresh 2020. Rendering courtesy of Walnut Capital.

Bakery Square, East Liberty

If you’re looking for one particular development to symbolize the transformation that Pittsburgh is undergoing right now, Bakery Square is probably it. The former Nabisco factory is home to Google and a host of tech firms and university-related research entities. It stretches across Penn Avenue via a pedestrian sky bridge to the site of the former Reizenstein school.

On that side of Penn Avenue, a 320,000-square-foot office, Bakery Office Three, is currently under construction. The site will house 1,500-plus workers for Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care, which is moving to the city from suburban Murrysville. The retail side is getting a facelift with Bakery Square Refresh 2020, an effort to add two stories of restaurant space, a better indoor/outdoor feel for pedestrians and a change from its current auto-centric orientation.

Rendering of District 15, phase 2. Courtesy of RDC Design + Build.

The Vision on Fifteenth, Strip District

Self-driving cars are almost as common as human-driven ones on Strip District streets, which is a weird future few of us expected. The Strip’s “Robotics Row” continues to act as a massive magnet for former suburban Pittsburgh offices (Bombardier, Honeywell), overseas tech firms (Bosch), fast-growing startups (Petuum, Argo AI) and Silicon Valley giants (Uber, Apple). Even bigger developments, like 3 Crossings along the river, and an office tower at the old Wholey’s cold storage building, are in the works. In the near future, the newly-renamed Vision on Fifteenth building could have the biggest impact. The previous property next door, District 15, attracted Facebook, which occupies the entire space. Hopes are equally high for the second 275,000-square-foot building, which should bring Downtown and the Strip District a little closer together, replacing the dead zone of parking lots that characterizes the area. The design, from Strip District-based architecture firm AE7, is a big improvement on the first rather suburban-looking building, with a flexible retail/restaurant space activating the ground level.

This was updated Jan. 14

Rendering courtesy of the Elmhurst Group.

Pittsburgh Technology Center, Oakland

This long, narrow stretch of flat land sandwiched between 376 and the Monongahela River was one of the first major brownfield sites redeveloped in the city — and it’s reaching its full, built-out conclusion. A large, 160,000-square-foot office building fronting the river, The Riviera, is rapidly nearing completion. Two more buildings are planned along Second Avenue — as part of the Elmhurst Innovation Center — aimed at housing emerging robotics and advanced manufacturing companies needing a mix of office and high-bay manufacturing space.