A once-thriving Ford Motor Company plant in Pittsburgh is being transformed into a cancer and biomedical research hub aptly called The Assembly, The Post has learned.
The changeover is another sign that the autogas industry is diminishing and follows the announcement earlier this month that New York plans to phase out most gas-powered vehicles by 2035. Meanwhile, the biomedical industry has skyrocketed in recent years, now valued at almost $850 billion.
“We are excited to be converting this historic, underutilized industrial facility into a hub for research, discovery and entrepreneurial activity,” Thomas Osha, a senior vice president who works on the innovation and economic development team at Wexford Science + Technology, told The Post.
The structure spans a colossal 355,000 square feet, including a 105,000-square-foot addition to the original building. Features of the building will include lab, research, office and event spaces, including an indoor parking garage, an auditorium with a 250-seat capacity and a cafe.
Additionally, next door to the former Ford plant will be another new lab/office space spanning 110,000 square feet.
“Much like Ford’s vision for an all-in-one building for building cars, our transformation will result in a singular facility for ‘assembling’ many of the elements of an innovation ecosystem, including top research talent, unique innovation infrastructure, corporate engagement, and community inclusion,” Osha added. “This is one of the reasons we have renamed the building ‘The Assembly.’”
“This Model T-era factory is a compelling piece of Pittsburgh’s history and features a wonderful layout for developing a place for researchers and companies to connect and collaborate,” Osha said.
“Our goal is to have this building become a home for cutting-edge biomedical research, especially in the fields of immunotherapy, transplantation, aging, neuroscience, and other areas of research focus at Pitt,” he added.
The former Ford plant began operating back in 1915. The facility was purchased by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2006 but has remained vacant for more than 15 years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.
“We have had our eye on the Pittsburgh market for some time, as the region’s life science ecosystem is expanding at a rapid pace,” Osha said. “The University of Pittsburgh – where Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine in 1953 – is the region’s life sciences anchor and is advancing what’s next in healthcare and medicine with globally renowned research in immunization, transplantation and neuroscience.”
The building is scheduled to be completed at the start of 2022.