Twisted Sunshades Turn Utilitarian Concrete Façade Into Artistic Architectural Statement at Riazzi Substation

Located in the Oakland community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Duquesne Light Co.’s Riazzi Substation opened for business in the summer of 2021. The neighborhood, home to Riazzi, is chock full of celebrated cultural destinations and some of the world’s most renowned hospitals, universities, and research facilities. Also, known as one of the most dynamic communities in southwestern Pennsylvania, any new construction, such as a power station, had to fit in. 

With a facility footprint of approximately 8,000 square feet and 55 feet tall, the substation would function as a “step down,” converting higher voltage electricity from a transmission system to lower voltage electricity used in homes and businesses through the distribution lines. Adding a substation in Oakland would allow Duquesne Light to support the increasing need for electricity in the area.

Riazzi Substation Twisted Sunshades

To provide this service to the community while conforming to the attractive landscape, architect Jennifer Szczesniak of PWWG Architects sought Construction Specialties (CS) Twisted Sunshades to add architectural interest to the façade. The unique design turns what could have been a negative space into an elevated project with its own story.

Mounting extruded blades on the exterior of the building at different angles, CS Twisted Sunshades create the illusion of movement by replicating waves. The blades can be mounted to start at different angles and are available in two blade types: 12” airfoil blades with a maximum twist rate of 5.625 degrees per foot or 2” x 12” rectangular tube blades with a maximum twist rate of 4.375 degrees per foot. Blades can be stacked for an extra high façade, or lighting and custom paint add additional interest. CS provided 600 twisted fins in 82 panels for the Riazzi substation.

“The shade and shadow you get with the twisting is exactly what we hoped for,” said Szczesniak of her project.  “Until you see it, in full scale on the building, that’s when you know it’s right.”

Riazzi Substation Twisted Sunshades

Brad Bridges of RJ Bridges Corp added, “Construction Specialties, they were a key role in this because they had to take the design and engineer it to work on the project.”

The Riazzi Substation is an eye-catching investment in the community with a façade that incorporates an aesthetic design to appeal visually to those passing by. Equally important, this substation will provide resiliency to the electric grid and safely deliver energy to the residents and businesses in the area.

Read about Riazzi Substation by visiting the Duquesne Light Co website here and learn more about Twisted Sunshades here.


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