Rendering of Pitt's planned BioForge facility
Pitt presented renderings of its planned BioForge facility to the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Photo courtesy of PublicSource.

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By Eric Jankiewicz

The University of Pittsburgh’s vision to transform part of Hazelwood Green into a modern biomanufacturing hub came into further focus at a Tuesday meeting.

Construction of a cell- and gene-therapy facility, dubbed BioForge, is slated to start this fall but the university must first receive approval from the City Planning Commission. The university began that process on Tuesday by briefing the commission on the plan to create a 68-foot-tall building totaling 185,000 square feet. 

The proposed site neighbors Mill 19, which houses Carnegie Mellon University’s Manufacturing Futures Institute, and is near a site where CMU will build a robotics laboratory.

The projects are part of the 178-acre Hazelwood Green site that CMU and Pitt, with the help of local foundations, have targeted for modern research and manufacturing. 

Members of the public will be able to weigh in on the plans for BioForge at a hearing, likely on Sept. 19, before the commissioners vote on the development. 

Plans include a public art installation, electric vehicle and e-bike charging stations, according to Vance Cheatham, an architect working on the project. Contrasting that is the use of pre-weathered steel and reclaimed wood meant as a nod to the community’s industrial history. 

The facility is expected to employ about 200 people, according to Pitt. BioForge will be a hub for life sciences businesses such as ElevateBio, a Massachusetts-based medical tech company, which is investing $40 million to the project. The Richard K. Mellon Foundation is donating $100 million to create the BioForge. Earlier this summer, the Pitt Board of Trustees Property and Facilities Committee approved $120 million in spending to build the “core and shell” of BioForge.

If approved, construction is expected to go into 2025.

Although Tuesday’s presentation highlighted the university’s community outreach efforts, some residents have said they are unaware of what’s happening on the site, or feel they’ve been left out of the conversation and may not be served by the development.  

Like much of the region, Hazelwood economically suffered after the collapse of former manufacturing industries.

Up until the 1990s, Jones & Laughlin Steel and its successor LTV Steel operated on the Hazelwood Green site.

Eric Jankiewicz is PublicSource’s economic development reporter and can be reached at or on X @ericjankiewicz.

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