Bridges – BOMA in the 70’s

BOMA Bridges - Part 4

BOMA Bridges


by John Java,

Our last newsletter highlighted events of the tumultuous “60’s” and now we are set to review the “70’s”
from a BOMA Pittsburgh perspective. These times were an even more dynamic, contentious, inspiring,
and opportunistic era.

Internationally, the “70’s saw a world-wide oil crisis, a Watergate scandal, an Iranian revolution, Viking
landers on Mars, and the end of the Vietnam war. In Pittsburgh “MR YUK” stickers were invented at
Children’s Hospital, the first night baseball World Series game (#4) was played at Three Rivers Stadium,
the first Robotics Institute was created by CMU and Westinghouse, and the first Steelers Super Bowl win
occurred in 1975. More importantly, Pittsburgh became the 3rd largest corporate headquarters of the
United States in 1973 and BOMA Pittsburgh grew stronger in the “70’s” due to real estate expansion
emanating from the “60’s” robust business, economic, retail, manufacturing, health, cultural, and
educational developments. The new U.S. Steel building, One PNC, Two PNC (originally Equibank), and
Centre City Tower on Smithfield added almost 5 million GSF of space from 1970 to 1975. All together
Pittsburgh had 17 Fortune 500 Companies and it was not unusual to see Rockwell International
helicopters land on the roof of the US Steel building.

However, the cold winds of regional industrial decline were creeping into the tri-state area and in the
mid-70's county/city population dropped. Regional jobs and steel production reached its zenith in
1973, spiraling downwards thereafter. Yet, because of other commercial business growth, real estate
speculation, and corporate CEO leadership, the new edifices that sprang up contributed to Mayor
Caliguiri’s efforts to launch Renaissance II in 1976. All this action renewed the public-private
partnerships that had been so successful in prior years. BOMA benefitted and contributed in many ways.
Local BOMA members, under the tutelage of Executive Director Jacques Kahn, became involved in city
and Pennsylvania code and ordinance development, lobbied for elevator and fire safety changes, better
real property depreciation rates, tax law modifications, anti-litter campaigns, and reasonable
handicapped and accessibility standards. BOMA Pittsburgh members joined and sometimes chaired
committees at the MAC conferences and International headquarters.

In 1971, BOMA Pittsburgh created the David L. Lawrence Building of the Year awards program to
recognize buildings making a significant contribution to the continuing renaissance of the Pittsburgh
area. This action encouraged other cities to follow. In 1970, members of the MAC saw the need for
professional education and in partnership with BOMA International, founded BOMI (Institute).
Pittsburgh was an early and energetic member and most high rise PM’s became RPA graduates. By 1978
Pittsburgh had 191 participating students or graduates. These same and more education programs
continue today.

The timely development of these education programs provided pertinent knowledge for many PM’s,
building engineers, and product/service vendors in reaction to President Carter’s 1977 National Energy
Policy. While his program addressed all forms of energy source and production, it truly affected all
BOMA buildings nationwide. Recommended thermostat settings of 65 degrees in the winter, 78 degrees
in the summer, and measured air quality changes were serious property management challenges in
relation to tenant requests (demands). While challenging and not relieved until 1981 by President
Ronald Reagan, the Carter program required Americans to increase focusing on greater energy
conservation, asbestos removal, and other building issues, which we will discuss in the next edition for
the perplexing “80’s”!