Perkins Eastman | Ascender


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A vital resource to start-up tech companies and non-profits across all industries, Ascender provides counseling and connections to help entrepreneurs launch new businesses. Achieving a multi-functional environment, the design accommodates space for various types of programming, coworking and collaboration, and Ascender’s incubator program, which is essential to the company’s mission of helping fledgling companies succeed.

The new 11,000 sf location—an office in a former light industrial building—provides the ideal setting attuned to Ascender’s new brand. Significant work was required to capture the spirit of the former factory – starting with removing the existing ceiling to reveal a dramatic wood truss system. Additional restorative measures included sandblasting painted brick walls which uncovered the warmth of the material below, and the window openings—enclosed to accept smaller, dated window modules—were reopened to capture natural light.

The design process required close collaboration, flexibility, and creativity – working within Ascender’s budget while designing to respect the buildings history. To allow the wood trusses to flow uninterrupted, walls stop just shy of the bottom of the beams. Embracing the raw industrial vibe, partitions enclosing offices and conference rooms use metal stud framing with unfinished plywood or polycarbonate panels attached with exposed fasteners; and pre-hung standard door and frame modules add privacy and interest at little cost. Unique finishes, such as felt panels on a track system, provide acoustic and visual privacy; and a one-of-a-kind light fixture, fabricated from a recycled window frame, serves as the finishing touch to the pantry. In the reception area, mobile furniture provides flexibility whether Ascender is hosting an intimate seminar or large networking events.

The completed space has proven to be a successful recruitment tool, as new companies under Ascender’s mentorship are spending a great deal of time utilizing the space ad its offerings.