At the turn of the 20th century, Pittsburgh was known as the glass capital of the United States, with more than 100 factories in operation in western Pennsylvania and the bordering regions of Ohio and West Virginia. By the 1920s, 80 percent of the glass in the U.S. was produced here.

Glasshouse, a new mixed-use development on the South Shore, will pay tribute to that history while connecting residents to the area’s riverfront trails and other amenities.

“We’ve been fascinated by the history of the site,” says developer James Murray-Coleman of High Street Residential, a subsidiary of Trammell Crow Company. “For instance, we learned there was a massive sandbar in the middle of the Monongahela River years ago. That’s one reason why there were glass facilities located here: they mined the sand for glass.”

In mid-December, Trammell Crow broke ground on Glasshouse, which is projected to have 320 luxury rental apartments when it is completed in 2019. Financed by Trammell Crow and Northwestern Mutual, the $70 million development will transform more than 15,000 square feet of land near Station Square, which has primarily been utilized for parking.

Residents will have access to a pool, a 335-space underground garage and outdoor kitchen and dining areas. In adherence with DEP regulations, archaeologist Christine Davis is exploring the site for glass artifacts, and the developer is partnering with Pittsburgh Glass Center to design unique glass elements for each unit.

“We also have a massive ‘jewel box’ amenity space — a two-story indoor space connected to a front ‘porch’ with a cantilevered roof for use during inclement weather,” adds Murray-Coleman. The architect is Baltimore-based firm Hord Copland Macht.

The site is along the Great Allegheny Passage, a popular bike trail that connects Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tenants will have access to their own free, on-site bike-share program through Healthy Ride.

The Glasshouse development will have easy access to riverfront trails. Image courtesy of Hord Coplan Macht.

“We think it’s a prime location for connecting the Downtown location to the South Side, and even better for connecting the South Hills commuters who come in on the T,” says David White, executive director of Bike Share Pittsburgh, which manages Healthy Ride.

Just a 10-minute bike ride from the Cultural District, the location is across the street from the Station Square T stop and in walking distance of Downtown via the Smithfield Street Bridge, which Murray-Coleman notes is the largest lenticular truss bridge in the country.

“We’re excited to see that side of the Smithfield Street Bridge be repurposed for a higher and better use,” says White.

He says the bike-sharing program was approached to be part of the development because of an overall focus on the outdoors and easy access to Downtown. Next year, the Glasshouse station will be among four locations that will double Healthy Ride’s capacity in the South Side and vicinity.

“They’ve been good partners who recognize the value in providing opportunities for people to get around Pittsburgh without a car and the importance of skewing toward a younger demographic,” White says.

Murray-Coleman says that Glasshouse will be Pittsburgh’s biggest transit-oriented development, with access to the light rail system, walking, buses, bike networks and the Monongahela Incline.

And the view’s not too bad either.

“People love to live near and look at water. We’ve created U-shaped courtyards that allow people in the majority of units to have a view of the water,” says Murray-Coleman. “And one of the fantastic features of this site is that it has an unbelievable, world-class view of Downtown.”