is City Historic Designation?
City Historic Designation is a classification assigned to significant
buildings, objects, sites, and districts by City Council in order
to preserve their historical, architectural, and visual integrity.
Historic designation is an honor recognizing the importance of a
particular place to Pittsburgh's heritage. For this reason,
the Historic Review Commission (HRC) has been established to protect
the existence and appearance of designated structures and districts.
Through an established regulatory process, the Commission reviews
proposed exterior alterations of designated buildings, including
new construction, demolition, and additions and/or repairs.
falls under the jurisdiction of the HRC?
HRC must review all exterior changes to any parts of a building
that are visible from a public street or way. Its jurisdiction
does not include the interiors of buildings or their use.
Alterations that exist at the time of City Historic Designation
may be maintained in perpetuity.
is required of property owners once their buildings have been designated?
does NOT require a property to make any changes to his or
her building. However, once a building or district has been
designated as historic by City Council, property owners who wish
to perform exterior repairs, alterations, new construction, or demolition
must submit an application along with their plans to the Historic
Review Commission for review and approval. HRC application
forms and instructions are available from the Historic Preservation
Planner, Department of City Planning, 200 Ross Street, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, or by calling 412-255-2243 or
412-393-0162. Applications may be submitted to this
address by mail, by fax (412-255-2838), or in person.
What is the process for gaining HRC approval?
an application has been submitted, the HRC staff conducts an initial
review to determine how the designated property will be affected
by the work proposed. Applications for routine maintenance,
repairs, or replacements in kind may be approved at once by Commission
staff (an "administrative approval"). If the application is
for new construction, demolition, an addition, or alterations involving
a change of building materials or appearance, the staff will place
the application on the agenda of the next upcoming HRC meeting.
The HRC generally meets on the first Wednesday of every month in
the 1st Floor Hearing Room of 200 Ross Street to review
applications for work on designated historic structures. The
Commission considers each application at an informal public hearing
and usually conducts its vote the same day. If the application
is denied, the Commission will indicate the changes required for
the application has been reviewed and approved, the Commission or
its staff issues a Certificate of Appropriateness for the work.
The Certificate of Appropriateness is essentially a permit to change
the exterior of a historically-designated structure, and is required
to obtain a building permit and zoning approval.
Commission's staff is available to meet with property owners to
help define a proposal that meets the applicant's goals while best
preserving the historic character of the designated building and/or
are decisions made by the HRC?
The HRC and its staff review all proposals on their own merits,
but their decisions are based on guidelines for historic preservation
established by the Federal Secretary of the Interior. Before
issuing a decision, the HRC considers the appropriateness of a proposed
change, its adherence to the building's original design and use
of original materials, as well as its compatibility with neighboring
buildings. The Commission takes into account the cost of repairs
and replacements, and weighs them against its charge to preserve
the historic character of the building and neighborhood.
What happens if the property owner fails to comply with the review
an exterior alteration is made without proper HRC review and approval,
the HRC holds a hearing after the fact to determine the appropriateness
of the change. Failure to comply with HRC requirements is
a violation of the building code and is enforced by City's Bureau
of Building Inspection. While the HRC makes every attempt
to arrive at a mutually acceptable decision with property owners,
violations may be resolved in court in extreme cases.
further information, please contact the Historic Preservation Planner
at the Department of City Planning at (412)-255-2243.