Project Owner:
Wexford Science + Technology/University of Pittsburgh, 5051 Centre

Project Team:
ZGF Architects, Turner Construction

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Industries Served: Commercial Construction, Restoration
Equipment: Frame Scaffolding, Pedestrian Canopy, System Scaffold Stair Towers, System Scaffolding
Services Provided: Drafting & Design, Engineering, PE Stamp, Scaffold Equipment Rental, Scaffold Erection & Dismantle
Scaffold Engineering: Universal Manufacturing, D.H. Charles Engineering

Project Background

  • Built in 1915 by Ford Motor Company as a one-stop shop for the iconic Model T. Vehicles went from assembly line to showroom floor all within the same building, located in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood, stretch of Baum boulevard historically nicknamed, "Automobile Row"
  • Consists of eight-story main building containing assembly areas and vehicle showroom, and six-story crane shed once used to hoist parts unloaded from rail lines adjacent to the structure, situated on a steep grade building only has five stories along street elevations
  • Stopped producing cars in 1932, remained in use for parts sales until 1953, largely abandoned from mid-70's until purchased by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in 2006. Subsequently purchased by University of Pittsburgh in 2018, named to National Register of Historic Places that same year
  • Now being transformed into a world-class hub that combines research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The new facility is designed to encourage collaboration between researchers and entrepreneurs to advance their discoveries into patient treatment.

Commercial Construction Scaffold

Turner Construction

  • Turner Construction Company is a North America-based construction services company which has earned recognition for undertaking large, complex projects, fostering innovation, embracing emerging technologies, and making a difference for their clients, employees, and community
  • Our Pittsburgh-based rental division, Universal Scaffold Systems has been a reliable sub-contracting partner for Turner on a wide range of projects in and around the greater Pittsburgh area. All Universal scaffolding on-site was rented from our yard and was installed by our highly skilled erection team.


University of Pittsburgh, Project Profile:
5051 Center Avenue Development

Wexford Science + Technology, Project Profile:
University of Pittsburgh

ZGF Architects, Project Profile:
Wexford Science + Technology/University of Pittsburgh, 5051 Centre

Follow-up Details

Structural Rehabilitation Horizontal Beam Access & Framework

Once used to hoist automobile parts unloaded from the adjacent rail lines, the former factory's six-story crane shed is being transformed into an atrium with two exterior walls refitted with massive panel windows. Before the windows can be installed the aging concrete walls require extensive repair.

Universal was asked to provide temporary staging, debris netting, and a means of access for contractors to make repairs and install formwork around five structural concrete beams on the building's East exterior wall. The wrinkle? Accomplish the objectives without disturbing work inside the structure.

Our team designed a 120-foot long by 84-foot high run of frame scaffolding secured against the building's East elevation, combined with a series of cable-supported platforms extending through the large window openings, and tied into the building's beam superstructure overhead.

Complicating things further, Universal Scaffold Systems was asked to wrap the scaffold with netting to prevent concrete fragments and other debris from falling into the Pittsburgh Port Authority bus lane immediately behind the location.

All wind, loading, structural data and calculations were prepared by the engineering department at Universal Manufacturing Corporation, as well as reviewed and stamped by our trusted partners at DH Charles Engineering.

System Scaffold Dance Floor & Crane Shed Roof Access

After months of simultaneous work on the exterior and interior of the crane shed structure, a machine room substructure and two levels of concrete floors were poured and the atrium has begun to take shape. Universal was next asked to address another, equally challenging set of tasks.

Contractors required access to the roof structure from a safe working area in the uppermost section of the building's six-story former crane shed. Using standard Universal system scaffolding, our engineering team designed a 46-foot wide by 117-foot long "dance floor" more than 58-feet in the air.

The platform's reinforced deck was constructed using a level of 9-inch steel plank, covered by a level of ¾-inch plywood and is designed to support a maximum live load of 18psf. Combined with an adaptive rolling tower rig, contractors have the ideal solution, optimizing both safety and efficiency.

All loading data and calculations were prepared by the engineering department at Universal Manufacturing Corporation, as well as reviewed and stamped by our trusted partners at DH Charles Engineering.