The Fifth Avenue School Lofts project is an exciting renovation of
a classic Pittsburgh school as high end loft apartments. From its
construction at the turn of the century and for decades after, the
school building served the children of Pittsburgh families. Today,
after two years of renovation, the rejuvenated structure is the best
in luxury loft living.
School History (1894-1976)
Architect Edward Stotz designed the building in a late Gothic style
with many European design elements. Construction,
reported to cost $400,000 (Forty million in today’s dollars), was
completed in 1894. The building opened as the state's first fireproof
school on one of Pittsburgh's premier thoroughfares.
The 100,000 square foot building contained offices for the district as
well as classrooms on four levels. With an emphasis on academic
excellence, Fifth Avenue High School in 1921 became home to the
founding chapter, the Alpha Chapter, of the National Honor Society.
For more than eighty years, the building served the educational
needs of diverse and ever-changing neighborhoods. Many prominent
citizens received their education in the building. In its last year of operation,
the school's varsity basketball team won the city and state
championships and was ranked #2 in the nation. The team, one of the
many to bring prestige to the school, was known as the Archers, a name
inspired by the school's gothic-style windows and portals.
Post-School Period (1976-2009)
For decades after it closed, efforts to redevelop the school moved
slowly. The building faced deterioration, but its robust original
construction and the inherent structural strength allowed it to survive.
Over the years the structure was recognized as a City of Pittsburgh
landmark and a Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation
landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lofts Construction Phase (2009-2012)
Several years ago the school's classic architectural style and structural
soundness attracted the attention of Impakt Development, a local company
experienced in rehabilitating buildings into distinctive urban housing.
Following a year of planning, rehabilitation began in early 2011.
“Renovation” work dating from the 1980s was removed to reveal much
of the unique spaces and dimensions of the original building.
The developers conceived loft spaces to fit within the original layout
of the building. Key aspects of the building have been preserved,
primarily in the open public spaces. The main corridors with their
17 foot widths have been preserved, along with the original floor
tile and wainscoting wherever possible. The monumental archways
and plaster ceilings on the first floor have also been preserved and
rebuilt using traditional plaster techniques. Exterior and interior
transom windows were preserved or reconstructed. New transom
sashes were manufactured as needed to match the originals inside
and outside. Wainscoting on the first floor was reconstructed to
match remaining materials, and historic hallway lighting was reintroduced.