Friday, January 1, 2010

What to do With the Igloo?

Mellon Arena faces an uncertain future once the Pittsburgh Penguins are through this season, and have a new home at the Consol Energy Center. Penguin owners have tentatively planned to demolish the arena and reconstruct the streets, but a local architect says he'd rather preserve the structure.

Rob Pfaffmann of Pfaffmann & Associates says it's more energy-efficient to keep the building and find a new use for it. It also embodies a history that shouldn't be forgotten. For instance, the 1950s renaissance, which resulted in both positive and negative history. While at the height of the steel industry, the construction of the arena pushed many Hill District residents out of their homes. He says Mellon Arena also has the largest moving dome in the world, a revolutionary feat for its time.

Pfaffmann has been conducting pro bono research to see what's most appropriate for a new use. Some fitting ideas include a hotel, a retail shopping center or an event venue. Essentially he says he wants the interior gutted and remodeled for new use, while keeping its unique exterior intact. He says the approximate cost to demolish the arena is $5 million, and and an additional $32 million would be needed to reconstruct the streets and the land. Instead, that money should be redirected to build something new with the building. Pfaffmann cites Station Square, South Side Works and the Heinz History Center as successful projects with historic exteriors intact.

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