Alcoa Building, Pittsburgh; photo courtesy of Historic Pittsburgh

We all know that Pittsburgh carries the moniker “Steel City,” but, did you know that Pittsburgh was the first city to build an all aluminum building? According to “Historic Pittsburgh,” the Alcoa Building, located at 425 6th Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, used aluminum wherever possible including aluminum furniture, aluminum piping and wiring, and aluminum air-conditioning ducts. Its thirty-story tower is lighter and more efficient than buildings of comparable size at the time of its construction.

The entire exterior wall of the structure was built using prefabricated aluminum sheets that contained both windows and the floor zone. These windows swung open in special inflatable rubber gaskets containing neoprene that minimized heat from the sun’s rays and also required minimal cleaning and maintenance on the exterior. Construction began in 1951 and was completed in 1953. The architectural firms involved on this project were Harrison & Abramovitz, along with Altenhof & Bown and Mitchell & Ritchey. The Alcoa Building stands on the site of the renowned Beaux Arts-style Nixon Theater and the building is presently referred to as the Regional Enterprise Tower.

METALCON 2019 will be in Pittsburgh, October 16-18. Come check out this building and other metal related features of the “Steel City.” You can read fun facts about Pittsburgh in each monthly issue of METALCONnection.