Work moving ahead at 5051 Centre Ave. research facility

Rendering of atrium


Construction on the new building at 5051 Centre Ave. being developed by Pitt and Wexford Science + Technology as a research facility continues with the addition of a new tower crane for rooftop steel construction.

The 200-foot crane will help continue construction on the eight-story Bloomfield building, which was the home of a Ford Motor Co. facility in 1915. It once served as a one-stop-shop for the Model T cars, which were assembled and displayed in the same building. 

The building has more than 200,000 square feet available for new lab space, meeting rooms, three retail storefronts, a parking garage, a 250-plus seat auditorium, a multipurpose atrium and more. The history of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, also will be highlighted in galleries. 

Pitt purchased the building from UPMC for $25 million in 2018. Pitt and Wexford plan to invest roughly $250 million into the site. The building is a part of Pitt’s ongoing efforts at generating the Pittsburgh Innovation District.

Building under construction

Robert Ferris, director of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, said the new building also will serve as an extension to the Shadyside center, where space is limited.

“This new facility will be really a wonderful addition and extension with our existing adjacent Hillman Cancer Center, but modernized according to how research is done in 2020,” Ferris said. “We're looking forward to the future of cancer research and hoping to continue leading that particularly in the area of cancer immunotherapy.”

Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for Business and Operations, said this building will create new economic opportunities for the neighborhood with its roughly 500 employees.

“And, of course, all of those folks send their kids to the schools and shop at Giant Eagle,” Scott said. “I think it really is a nice development and then having retail space makes this an innovation district and changes the groups that are buying houses to walk nearby.”

In addition, the building will foster more interdisciplinary collaboration, said Fadi Lakkis, scientific director at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at UPMC.

“The most important aspect of this building is that it really reflects how science has changed,” Lakkis said. “No one works in a silo anymore. We all work together; the lines have been blurred. Whether you're studying cancer, transplantation or other immune diseases, we all interact with each other and that's how we learn and how we improve our science.” 

Construction on the building is on track to finish in fall 2021.

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.  


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