Rendering of the new UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Courtesy of UPMC.

Pennsylvania’s largest employer, UPMC, broke ground Tuesday on the biggest healthcare project in the state — the new UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland. It also will be the largest hospital in Pittsburgh’s history.

The $1.5 billion, 1.2 million-square-foot project has to fit into a narrow plot in Oakland, which is already crowded with hospitals. So the obvious choice was to go vertical. At 17 stories, the curving glass tower should be a highly recognizable part of Oakland’s skyline when it opens in 2026.

The new hospital will feature 636 private patient rooms and clinical facilities featuring specialty care such as transplantation, cardiology and cardiac surgery, and neurology and neurosurgery. There will also be a 450-space parking garage.

The new UPMC Presbyterian will have a panoramic view of Oakland. Rendering courtesy of UPMC.

The hospital will take 3,400 construction jobs to build, using 9,200 tons of steel and 290,000 square feet of glass. It will be located in front of, and will connect to, the current UPMC Presby Hospital at the corner of Fifth Avenue and DeSoto Street– the site of the former Children’s Hospital.

“Our existing UPMC Presbyterian, which we fondly call ‘Presby,’ was built over 100 years ago,” says Sandy Rader, president of UPMC Presbyterian. “And we all welcome the ‘New Presby,’ which sets us up for advanced health care in Pennsylvania for the next century.”

The design by national architectural firm HGA will include three terraces shaded by 56 trees. The new UPMC Presbyterian will meet or exceed green building standards using energy-efficient patterned glass.

The planned UPMC Presbyterian will meet or exceed green building standards. Rendering courtesy of UPMC.

“We wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t even have an opportunity to build this type of building, but for the caregivers, and the techs, and the nurses, the doctors, the researchers who have been at the forefront of this groundbreaking medical care on this campus, really for generations,” says Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “And now we’re building them a new home to do their craft in.”

It’s been a big week for UPMC hospitals. According to the prestigious 2022-23 Honor Roll of Best Children’s Hospitals from U.S. News & World Report released on Tuesday, UPMC Children’s Hospital came in at number six in the country.

Rendering of the exterior of UPMC Presbyterian courtesy of UPMC.

UPMC Presby is the second of three major new hospitals announced by UPMC several years ago.

The UPMC Mercy Pavilion, with its emphasis on cutting-edge eye care, will open in the spring of next year. Details for a cancer-focused hospital in Shadyside have not been announced yet.

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.