Hazelwood Green Roundhouse Opens with Expansion of OneValley Silicon Valley Incubator
On a cloudy Wednesday morning in September, the Roundhouse saga at Hazelwood Green finally reached its ultimate conclusion: from the crumbling industrial relic (built in 1887 to run locomotives bound for the J&L Steel mill) to the OneValley’s high-tech incubator for startups fueling Pittsburgh’s economic renaissance.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is my dad,” says Tim Smith of Center of Life, a community empowerment organization in Hazelwood that was consulted on the project.
“My dad worked in this factory,” says Smith. “He comes to Pittsburgh after leaving the Navy. He is standing in front of the entrance gate, and he has his helmet, his lunch box, his tools, his gloves, his boots. It is a ready-to-use program. You stand at the door. If you appear to be ready to work, sometimes you are chosen. Well he was chosen and ended up working here.
It was a difficult time, torn by divisions and separations, between black and white, work and management, jobs and the environment.
“The other thing that comes to my mind is sort of the ghosts of everyone who worked in this factory. If the ghosts on those 178 acres could talk to us, they’d say, “Make those connections,” Smith explains. “When you think about what OneValley does and everything that’s going on here, it’s a lot easier to bond than ever in its history. “
The $ 13.7 million, 26,000 square foot rehabilitation by GBBN Architects is now fully occupied by OneValley. The massive train shed doors are now glass, through which you can see two levels of offices and meeting rooms.
A lone, rusty crane hangs from the ceiling, as a reminder of the building’s industrial past. A partnership with Monmade fills the Roundhouse with artisan touches, from a kitchen island by Bones and All to a reception desk by Temper and Grit.
“For me, it’s hard to step into this space without getting chills down my spine,” says Alec Wright, director of product innovation, City of San Francisco, where OneValley is headquartered. “It’s a passionate project and a commitment of our team for almost four years, since we were first invited into the local ecosystem by our amazing partners at Ascender.”
“OneValley is a global platform for entrepreneurship and acceleration. We have one mission and only one mission: and that is to support entrepreneurs in the growth of their businesses… We see entrepreneurship as the engine of growth of the future, in the most important industries in the world. It is an incredible privilege to work in communities like Pittsburgh and to help build and develop these entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Their goal is to grow these young businesses from a few (or just one) people in a cluster of offices to a larger office within the Roundhouse, eventually becoming a business that is completely out of space.
“This brings us to the question of why Pittsburgh and why Hazelwood? Wright said. “Over the past seven years, my team and I have looked at dozens of emerging innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world, frankly… We believe there is no city better equipped to forge these relationships and build the industries of tomorrow like Pittsburgh.
OneValley gives members access to office and coworking spaces with on-site amenities (like kitchens, showers and a bedroom for new mothers), and a global network of over 40,000 entrepreneurs, 450 investors and 200 mentors via their Passport platform. In addition, members have access to the Pittsburgh Entrepreneurship Platform, built in partnership with Ascender and $ 500,000 from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The platform connects startups to Pittsburgh resources, investors, leads and savings on business and learning tools and content – like cloud computing, video conferencing, sales tools and access to like-minded founders.
The Roundhouse is part of the massive Hazelwood Green development that began almost 20 years ago and is far from complete. The Roundhouse is the property’s second building to be reused for the new economy – next door is the massive Mill 19 with one of the country’s largest solar panels on the roof and a robotics center inside.
Parks, bike paths, housing, offices and more are in the works for the massive 178-acre site, which needed major restoration after decades of industrial environmental damage.
“This is sacred ground,” says Rich Fitzgerald, director of Allegheny County. “So many people worked and worked here for over a century when it was J&L and LTV (Steel). Building the things that built America: the rails, the beams, the Democracy Arsenal. When you think of the men and women who worked here, were injured here, and some died here, building America. We are creating a whole new economy. And hope, not just for Hazelwood, but for them. young people arriving, wondering “What am I going to do? What will my opportunity be?” “
Funding comes from the Almono Partnership, a collaboration of three of the region’s most important foundations: the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Heinz Endowments.
“A few years ago, I thought to myself that if the right people didn’t get their hands on those 178 acres of land downstream from Center of Life, we could be in big trouble,” says Smith. Fortunately, the foundations have had the foresight to reach out and build these relationships that would not have happened 30 years ago. “
Mayor Bill Peduto recalls that the end of LTV Steel – and the possibility of replacing it with another steel operation – has caused new rifts in the city that have taken decades to resolve.
“His last breath pitted us against each other – environmentalists against organized labor,” says Peduto. “And what came out of that battle was the Blue-Green Alliance, a local meeting of the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, which then took on a national presence by finding ways to work together for the common good,” by creating good jobs, green jobs.