Squirrel Hill JCC begins $1.5 million renovation
Increased security, easier access, more inviting space will benefit members and wider community, officials say.
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill began work last week on a $1.5 million renovation project that officials say will improve its security and accessibility, and create a more welcoming space for gathering and socializing.
The project, dubbed “Town Square,” will include upgrades to both the exterior and interior of the 31-year-old Irene Kaufmann Building. The Town Square, located on the main floor of the building, is framed by two public entryways — at Forbes Avenue and Darlington Road — with the corridor running from one end to the other. It spans one full city block and meets in the middle to form an atrium-lit indoor courtyard.
Access for those entering the building will be improved with the installation of turnstiles and automatic glass doors, according to Cathy Samuels, the JCC’s senior director of development and communications. The addition of the turnstiles will also enhance the building’s security, “making it easier for our customer service teams to monitor who is coming in.”
Upgrades to the interior space, known as the Ostrow Palm Court, will include new energy-efficient lighting, upgraded flooring and furniture groupings intended to create a “softer feel” and encourage social interaction, said Sherree Hall, senior director of facilities and wellness. The space will also provide computer and phone charging stations.
“Our goal for the aesthetic is that the space will be a gathering place for young families to seniors,” said Samuels. “We like to describe it as the community’s living room. We’re really excited. We think this will change how people feel about the building.”
In addition to serving its 18,000 members, the JCC hosts many community programs throughout the year, including political events, programs sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and clergy meetings, according to Samuels.
“There are thousands of people in the building every day,” she said. “It’s time for us to have a warmer, more contemporary atmosphere. And we have a lot of intergenerational activities in that space, so the upgrades will enhance that experience.” The walls and banisters within the space will also be upgraded, said Hall.
The scope of the exterior improvements will include raising the portico on Darlington, replacing the sidewalks and pavers at both the Forbes and Darlington entrances, and new ramps.
While some entrances will be closed during the renovation, at least two will continue to be accessible throughout the project, which is expected to be completed by June 2019.
The architect of the project is Rothschild Doyno Collaborative. PJC
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