Designing Alloy 26: Pittsburgh’s Largest Co-Working Space

Within the first 5 minutes of our initial Alloy 26 planning meeting with Faros Properties, it had become crystal clear to us:  This group has an intense passion for cultivating a vibrant, close-knit community of entrepreneurs in the Pittsburgh area.  Discussions always revolved around the end user of the space.  Every decision was based on the question “Will this support the creative process of the Alloy 26 member?”

Working from this vision of creating an actual community, we began to plan the physical aspects of the space.  The balance required between shared and private areas that you find in typical office spaces are amplified when you have a space that houses several unique organizations and entrepreneurs within it.  This proposed an exciting challenge for our design team.

The existing space that we were working with also played in integral role in the design.  We were starting with an area that once housed a Woolworths store.  The floor finishes, dropped ceilings, and interior partitions had been removed to reveal high coffered concrete ceilings, concrete floor, and exposed duct work and piping.  Only one of the walls of the space were lined with full height windows so we knew we had to maximize access to daylight and views for maximum amount of members, rather than limiting that access to a few selected offices.

In response to this condition, we located the main open work area at the heart of the space with direct access to the windows.  We lined private offices along the side walls perpendicular to the window wall, and provided glass partitions for the offices so they maintain access to the view and daylight as well.  The offices are carpeted, and have acoustic insulation in their walls and ceilings to maintain privacy.


For the open work area, we left the concrete ceilings, ductwork, and piping exposed.  We chose to grind and seal the existing concrete floors.  Area rugs and furniture are provided throughout the open work area to create small breakout zones for collaboration.  In lieu of dividing the space with partitions for these casual meeting areas, we worked closely with Burke and Michael to utilize furniture that creates semi-privacy without sub-diving the space into a series of small rooms.  The warmth of the space comes from the furniture- rich wood finishes and an eclectic mix of colors and textures offset the exposed concrete finishes.  As evident in the Alloy 26 space, the furniture industry has made great strides in addressing the challenge of providing privacy for open office areas.  High back soft furniture, elegant soft partitions, and adjustable pieces that can change the shape of a meeting area are some of the ways that furniture can serve the needs of clients who opt out of total sub-division into offices.

The space does provide two small meeting rooms for those who require total acoustic privacy.  Also provided are three large conference rooms.  Two of these rooms “float” in the middle of the open work area.  These conference room walls do not extend to the ceiling but stop below it, creating an effect of an object located within the open work area, rather than cutting it into smaller spaces.

Alloy 26 also houses an event space that provides simple bleacher-type seating and a large projection screen.  This space can be utilized for larger events, or can be used a flex space for members when large events are not taking place.  So, if a member would prefer to walk away from their desk to churn through an idea, they could take their laptop to this area as a change of scenery.  This area can also be used for casual meetings or conversations.


In support of the event space, Alloy 26 has a catering bar in the reception area.  The reception area maintains the exposed concrete ceilings and floors, but provides a hint of “luxe” in its furniture and lighting, in order to harken back to the feel of an old cigar lounge.  The design vision of this area was to create a strong, welcoming sense of arrival for members, and powerful first impression to their clients who visit the space.


The reception area, large event space, and toilet rooms can be separated from the rest of the offices and open work area, so events can be held in the evenings while maintaining security for the members.  An open window from the reception area opens directly to the rich smells of a new La Prima Coffee shop, so members can grab a cup without having to leave Alloy 26.

The over-arching goal was to help our local entrepreneurs thrive. When looking closely at the finishes, you’ll find that we did not have to “break the bank” to support this goal.  Higher end finishes and fixtures were utilized strategically and sparingly in the space.  It was the actual space planning and a mindful application of less expensive materials that create the character of Alloy 26.


We look forward to watching what new things come to Pittsburgh as a result of this burgeoning community.

See the larger images here…

About the design team: Senior Architect at Desmone Architects and Greater Pittsburgh Area Native, Jen Bee specializes in commercial, hospitality and multi-family market segments. She excels in meeting the client’s desires for their space while still complying with regulations and making spaces attractive and welcoming to the end user.  Jen was the Project Manager on Alloy 26.

Additionally, Chelsea Constantino helped lead the Interior Design initiatives while Troy Barney and Afnan Khushayfati held consistent support roles during the entire design process.