Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Deluxe Compartment in the Sky: We’re Movin’ On Up...

A week or so ago, a blogger friend of mine wrote about the cursed origin of the office cubicle--those bland workspaces squared off with faux walls, rows and rows of corporate tedium. (Well, those weren't his exact words but that pretty much sums up how he sees them, as a white collar prison.) 

And I suppose there's a few million office workers out there who feel just the same way (and God knows I've spent close to a couple decades in them too & not always happy about it either). 

But I’m still excited about my this one; on Monday (May 3 2010) I am taking up residence--well, work residence--on the 21st floor of the US Steel Building, the tallest structure in the 'burg.

No, I didn't get a new job; my company (UPMC Health Plan) is moving it's offices into corporate headquarters where our parent company, (University of Pittsburgh Medical Care) moved from Oakland to downtown Pittsburgh in 2007.  They didn't just move there, they took over the top floors and slapped the UPMC logo across the top of the tower too.  It was a strange sight for many, myself included:  everyone knew this as the US Steel Building.

On the far left, the UPMC logo is all aglow on each side of the triangle shaped Steel Tower

The US Steel Building is the tallest skyscraper in Pittsburgh.  Built in 1970, it has 64 floors and approximately 2.5 million feet of leased space.  It was renamed the USX Building in 1988, but changed back to US Steel in 2002.  (I know, statistics are boring but they're still worth mentioning.)

So this past week, our department was offered a tour of the floor we'll be occupying.  Everything was brand new, and 'done green' with lots of natural and energy-saving lighting, bamboo flooring in public areas such as the lounges & conference rooms, & even the walls, cabinets and desks are made with recycled materials.


Entrance to the employee kitchen and lounge (photos courtesy of Erin Ondrish) 

When we were walking about I couldn't help but be very impressed.  It seemed that everywhere I looked I saw either sky (windows everywhere) or a terrific assortment of abstract art that adorn the interior walls.  I think the only artwork we had in our previous office was the lame caricature I did of my coworker Erin, which hung above her desk!

Speaking of desks, my new workspace; it may look bland here, but it also has a great view

We're right in the center of downtown and just steps away from Macy's, restaurants & the like.  I'm also much closer to old friends & former coworkers from other companies, we have a food court & gym on the lower levels and I suppose it doesn't hurt that my morning bus-stop is right outside the front doors!

The view from our windows of the plaza below

I don't mean to sound melodramatic here--after all, the US Steel Building houses a few thousand tenants.  But for some reason, perhaps because of my 'late start' in this industry (I was 28 when Omega Systems hired me as a programmer in 1990) I can't help but appreciate where I am now, compared to twenty years ago.  In the late 80s, before finding a way to go back to college, I was unemployed & broke and living in the attic of my best friend's rural house outside of Waynesburg, wondering if things would ever change for the better. 
Well, when I showed these pictures to my sisters, Donda said "Wow fancy digs!!" and Shawn said "Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm amazed how far you've come.  This sure is a long way from that musty attic."    I couldn't agree more and am thankful.

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