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For Immediate Release: Tues., May 21
Contact: Joe Reed | Director of Marketing and Communications
412-622-6915, ext. 3801 | jreed@phipps.conservatory.org

Phipps Conservatory Finalizes Agreement to Acquire Irish Centre in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill Neighborhood 
New Phipps Program Staging Center to Host Homegrown Edible Garden Program, Community Greening, Nursery Space, Research Projects

Pittsburgh, PA — Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement to acquire the former Irish Centre site in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The new satellite site for Phipps’ operations, tentatively named the Phipps Program Staging Center for its dual focus on the growth of plants and communities, will be used as a headquarters for the Conservatory’s Homegrown program, an incubator for new community greening projects throughout the City, a nursery for plants for upcoming flower shows, and a laboratory for research projects. Over time, Phipps plans to make enhancements to the space by transforming it into a green building and beautifying the structure and landscape.

“The people of Squirrel Hill and its surrounding neighborhoods have a relationship with Phipps that goes back more than 130 years,” says Phipps President and CEO Richard V. Piacentini. “We have been honored by the community’s support from the day we made our initial proposal for use of the Irish Centre site. As this exciting new journey begins, we look forward to developing a space to showcase new paths forward to living with human and environmental health in mind and the additional space afforded by the Irish Centre will allow us to expand those efforts, reaching more people both within the local neighborhood and surrounding communities than ever before.”

For several years, Phipps has been seeking property in the City of Pittsburgh to serve as a headquarters for its Homegrown Edible Garden Program, a community program to create green spaces in underserved areas. The Irish Centre’s proximity to Phipps Conservatory, major roads and Frick Park positions the site perfectly to allow this program to grow and expand. Since its inception in 2013, Homegrown has installed nearly 400 raised-bed vegetable gardens at households in in Homewood, Larimer, Belmar, East Hills, and the Greater Hazelwood area and provided mentorship and resources to hundreds of community members.

In expansion of its efforts, Phipps intends to additionally utilize this space to incubate new community greening projects, working directly with local residents to establish green spaces within their neighborhoods, a commitment inspired by the City’s partnership in the Biophilic Cities project. Phipps also hopes to utilize the site as a muchneeded laboratory setting for cutting edge research in  human health and wellness, ecology, education and social justice, and science communication and outreach.

In the immediate term, the Irish Centre building is expected to be utilized as a base of operations for Phipps’ adult education program while a separate renovation project occurs on the Phipps Garden Center site in Shadyside. In the long-term, pending the support of capital funding, Phipps intends to adapt the Irish Centre building into a cutting-edge sustainable facility. The Conservatory’s experience with adapting legacy building stock is reflected in its Exhibit Staging Center, which transformed in 2019 from a 1960s-era public works facility into a dynamic, modernized work building which has achieved some of the highest green building certifications: Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum and WELL Platinum. Interested contributors may visit phipps.conservatory.org/IrishCentre to contribute to the campaign. 

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About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA is a globally recognized green leader with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Encompassing 15 acres including a historic 14-room glasshouse, 23 distinct indoor and outdoor gardens and industry-leading sustainable architecture and operations, Phipps attracts more than half a million visitors annually from around the world. Learn more at phipps.conservatory.org.

Watch TEDx: What We Can Learn From an Old Glasshouse: A look at the evolving way we connect people to nature at Phipps, demonstrate how human and environmental health are inextricably connected, and show that to age gracefully, we must continually reinvent ourselves to evolve with the rest of the world.