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Plans Move Forward to Restore Allegheny County Courthouse

One of the most iconic symbols in downtown Pittsburgh is set to undergo a series of renovations that will preserve its history and bring it up to date.

Allegheny County has selected the firm of Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel to develop a Master Facilities Plan to restore the 126-year-old Allegheny County Courthouse.

The firm will assess the building’s heating, lighting, electric and security systems to determine what construction needs completed, according to Principal Sheldon Goettel.

The challenge will be to find ways to install new systems without damaging the historic setting.

“This is a national treasure we have here,” Goettel said. “Finding a way to preserve that and at the same time make it a good and functioning building in the 21st century is a wonderful and interesting challenge.”

The firm will work with a large team of consultants to create a roadmap for renovations that could take up to a year to complete. With the plan, the county will have discretion over when to undergo each renovation, which might be dependent on what it can afford at the time.

The plan will take into consideration the historic materials in the building.

“This is a distinguished building by a distinguished architect,” Goettel said. “It has prominence on a national level. You have to be very careful to preserve setting on inside and outside.”

The courthouse was designed by Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson and built in the late 1880s. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Goettel said the renovations are necessary because after all, the courthouse is still operating.  

“It’s not a museum or artifact,” Goettel said. “It’s a working courthouse and it needs to continue in that role.”