Pittsburgh Playhouse photo courtesy of Point Park University.

Even as the new year has us curious about the top real estate developments that will emerge in 2019, the Master Builder’s Association of Western Pennsylvania is taking a moment to look back and acknowledge some of the great architectural accomplishments of 2018.

On Jan. 3, the industry group announced the finalists for its Building Excellence Awards, an annual event that recognizes the work of local contractors in categories like new construction, renovation construction and excellence in craftsmanship.

The winners will be announced at the annual Construction Industry Evening of Excellence at the Heinz Field East Club on Feb. 28.

The finalists include:

Pittsburgh Playhouse, PJ Dick Incorporated – Best New Construction Over $25 Million

PNC Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse. Photo courtesy of Point Park University.

Opened to the public in October of 2018 with a production of “Cabaret,” this 90,411-square-foot space brings Point Park’s nationally recognized theater program into the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. The playhouse includes three midsize theaters and 91 rooms devoted to classes and technical workshops. Altogether, the arts center cost $60 million to build and furnish.

The University found space for the theater complex by buying and expanding into several historic buildings Downtown that once held iconic Pittsburgh landmarks, including the old stock exchange and former Honus Wagner Sporting Goods store.

CODA on Centre, Rycon Construction, Inc. – Best New Construction Between $10 and $25 Million

Coda on Centre. Photo by TH Carlisle.

This 175-unit apartment complex on the Shadyside/East Liberty border features a wide range of amenities, including an in-house musician to serenade residents. (Details here.)

“They’ll be required to play music 15 to 20 hours a month in the lobby,” says Coda’s general manager, Tony Corsa, “and get a free apartment for three months.”

The building was designed by WTW Architects with the goal of meeting a LEED Silver standard of sustainability. Officially opened in March 2018, Coda’s green features include recycled flooring, low-VOC paint, high-efficiency appliances and green cleaning products.

Forest Hills Municipal Building, Volpatt Construction Corporation – New Construction Under $10 Million

Forest Hills Municipal Building. Photo courtesy of Pfaffmann + Associates.

The Forest Hills Municipal Building is a green complex that combines the local library, police station and government offices into one 12,746 -square-foot structure. Using solar panels on the roof to provide electricity and a geothermal air flow system to control the climate, the center was designed to qualify for a Gold LEED rating. (Want to know more? Click here.)

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, lead architect Rob Pfaffmann noted that it was the first time his firm had ever been asked to design holding cells.

East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Landau Building Company – Renovation Under $5 Million

Photo by Tracy Certo.

The long-awaited restoration of the iconic church has allowed the ELPC to greatly expand its cultural and interfaith community services in the past year, while also making this community anchor a model for sustainable design.

In December 2018, the 83-year-old cathedral was awarded RESET air certification for its new and innovative air filtration system, which was the result of a collaboration between ELPC, Auros Group, Pfaffmann + Associates and CJL Engineering.

Southern Tier Brewing Company, Landau Building Company – Excellence in Interior Craftsmanship

Southern Tier Brewing Company. Photo by Brian Conway.

Located at 316 North Shore Drive between the stadiums, this brewpub is the first satellite location in Southern Tier’s 15-year history. The space includes a full-service kitchen offering scratch-made fare such as meatloaf sandwiches, steaks, salads and house-smoked wings.

While Landau Building Company handled construction, the structure was designed by Fukui Architects. Local artist Derek Griesbach designed both the standing bars and chandeliers using whiskey barrels.

Additional finalists include:

New Construction Over $25 Million

The Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall at Carnegie Mellon University. Contractor: Jendoco Construction Corporation

New Construction Between $10 and $25 Million

Central Catholic High School/Zupancic Family STEM Center. Contractor: PJ Dick Incorporated

New Construction Under $10 Million

Orchard Hill Church – Chapel Addition. Contractor: Burchick Construction Company, Inc.

Renovation Construction Over $10 Million

CMU Hamerschlag Hall Maker Wing Renovation. Contractor: Rycon Construction, Inc.

University of Pittsburgh Johnstown John P. Murtha Engineering & Science Building. Contractor: Volpatt Construction Corporation

Renovation Construction Between $5 and $10 Million

Benter Foundation Offices – 17th, 18th & 19th Floors of the Benedum Trees Building. Contractor: Jendoco Construction Corporation

Schenley Quad, University of Pittsburgh. Contractor: Mascaro Construction Company, LP

Renovation Construction Under $5 Million

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Renovation. Contractor: A. Martini & Co.

Excellence in Craftsmanship – Interior Construction

Pineapple Payments. Contractor: Nello Construction Company

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.