Rendering of Tech Forge in Lawrenceville. Image courtesy of RIDC.

The Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RIDC) will focus on Pittsburgh robotics companies with a new building in Lawrenceville.

RIDC recently broke ground on Tech Forge, a 64,500-square-foot facility that’s being built at 47th Street and Plum Way. With its mix of both office and high-bay space, TechForge was primarily designed to accommodate growing robotics companies looking for a new home. The building will put future tenants in close proximity to the neighborhood’s robotics community, including Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) on 40th Street, as well as the 14 robotics companies located nearby.

Franjo Construction of Homestead will act as the general contractor on the $20 million project, which was designed by the Lawrenceville firm Desmone Architects.

“We’ve invested a lot in the tech and robotics clusters of companies in Lawrenceville and really see this building as the next step in the evolution of that technology cluster,” says RIDC president Don Smith.

Smith believes Tech Forge will help facilitate economic opportunities being created by area universities such as CMU, which attracts talent and companies to the region through their research in robotics and other technology. The space is already projected to provide 130 permanent and 60 construction jobs in Lawrenceville.

The new venture adds to a series of other tech-centric real estate investments the company has made in Lawrenceville, along with acquiring the Geoffrey Boehm Chocolate Factory on 43rd Street and the 14-acre former Heppenstall Steel site along Hatfield Street.

Unlike its predecessors, however, Tech Forge will attract tenants with more amenities, such as bike and car parking and a rooftop deck. The LEED-certified structure will also offer a higher level of energy efficiency with improved insulation, more advanced heating and cooling systems and the use of natural daylighting to reduce electricity usage. There will also be a green roof to help with stormwater management.

“We’re really proud of the design we have for the building and think it will be an attractive space,” says Smith.

So far, the construction and mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar has signed on to become the first tenant.

Construction on Tech Forge is expected to be completed sometime next spring.

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.