Rendering of renovations to the Highmark building Downtown courtesy of Highmark.

Highmark unveiled plans today for a $20 million renovation of their long-time headquarters at Fifth Avenue Place. The plan includes expanded retail and restaurant space accessible to the public on the building’s first two floors.

The 31-floor office tower, an iconic part of Pittsburgh’s skyline which opened in 1988, houses more than 3,000 employees of Highmark Health, Highmark health plan and Allegheny Health Network, along with 16 additional tenants.

A video rendering of the renovated building shows a massive wall of plants in a dramatic, modern lobby with marble walls. Inside the building, an open atrium connects the two floors of retail and restaurants. The second-floor dining area, called Food Hall on 5th, is open and airy, with lots of natural light and more green plants.

“Highmark invested in Downtown Pittsburgh at a time when the region was losing companies and jobs,” Karen Hanlon, COO of Highmark Health, said while announcing the project. “Today, it’s a much different story. More than 15,000 people call Downtown Pittsburgh home, and more than 110,000 people work Downtown. It is the heartbeat of our region — and Fifth Avenue Place is one of its signature locations. We continue to do our part to make Pittsburgh a top destination to work, live and play.”

Pittsburgh-based AE7 is the architecture firm for the project. A contractor has yet to be named.

A rendering of the renovated second-floor retail and restaurant area at Highmark’s Downtown headquarters. Courtesy of Highmark.
A rendering of the renovated second-floor retail and restaurant area at Highmark’s Downtown headquarters. Courtesy of Highmark.

The renovations will take place over the next three years and Highmark estimates the project will provide more than 100 construction jobs. Highmark says the building is currently at 72 percent retail occupancy.

“Highmark Health is committed to leading the transformation of health care, while Pittsburgh is a city transformed,” said Dan Onorato, executive vice president of corporate affairs for Highmark Health. “Our headquarters, where many of our employees work to get health care right for our members and patients, should reflect that spirit of transformation. We are also investing in and modernizing a space that has been a community asset for generations, dating back to the days of the Jenkins Arcade. With our new investment, this space will continue to be a community asset in a thriving Downtown region.”

Check out a video here that lets you “fly through” a rendering of the new space. (Tech note: We’re told it’s best viewed via Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge, and isn’t optimized for Internet Explorer).

Melissa Rayworth

Kidsburgh Editor Melissa Rayworth specializes in stories about culture, gender, design and parenting. She has written for a variety of outlets in the U.S. and Asia, and is a frequent contributor to The...