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March 22, 2010 5:07 PM

K&L Gates's New Citadel Prominent Part
of Steel City Skyline

Posted by Brian Baxter

KLGates-Building2
On Monday K&L Gates moved into the K&L Gates Center, a 37-story Pittsburgh office tower emblazoned with the firm name.

"The firm suspended operations on Thursday and we opened for business today in our new space," says Michael Zanic, an administrative partner at K&L Gates who helped oversee the move. "Some of us still haven't unpacked our boxes."

The new office, consisting of 14 floors taking up 251,000 square feet, is the firm's largest, Zanic says--it's home to 600 employees, including 225 lawyers. But don't call it a headquarters. Zanic says the firm claims no official home base. Still, given K&L's roots in Pittsburgh through predecessor firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham, the Steel City seems the logical place for the firm's largest office.

K&L Gates signed a letter of intent in September 2007 to become the building's majority tenant by 2010, according to sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer. As part of the deal, the building--formerly known as One Oliver Center and the Ariba Center, and among the ten-tallest structures in the city--was renamed after the firm. Zanic says the K&L Gates brand is visible from almost any point in Pittsburgh, a noticeable difference from the firm's old digs at the Henry W. Oliver Building, home to K&L for 63 years.

"This move reflects the recent growth of K&L Gates both domestically and internationally, and we are proud to remain a part of the rich history and promising future of the city of Pittsburgh," firm chairman and global managing partner Peter Kalis told The Legal Intelligencer at the time. (Kalis was tied up in client meetings on Monday and unavailable for immediate comment.)

The American Lawyer's Nate Raymond reported on K&L Gates's proposed move last November in this feature story, noting the firm's rapid growth in recent years. The expansion has continued unabated. The firm opened offices in Moscow and Tokyo in January; earlier this month, it picked up the Warsaw office of Hogan & Hartson. K&L's revenue and profits per equity partner have increased for two consecutive years. In 2009, when most of the firms in The Am Law 100 saw substantial declines in revenue, K&L surpassed the $1 billion revenue mark, according to our prior coverage.

Some key features of the new office, according to K&L Gates spokesman Mike Rick: a fully renovated ground-floor lobby and adjoining plaza include new trees using sustainable soil technology; energy-efficient lighting fixtures; and 75 percent natural light. Rick says the building has applied for LEED-CI certification. (The original structure, built in 1968, was designed by William Lescaze; the renovated building was designed by Lehman Smith McLeish, an architectural firm based in Washington, D.C.)

K&L Gates is the second large international firm to display its name on a downtown office building; the first was Steel City rival Reed Smith, which moved into new office space last year at Three PNC Plaza--also site of the city's beautiful new Fairmont Hotel. The firm leases 11 floors in the newest high-rise in Pittsburgh, which happens to be the nation's top market for new office tenants.

Extra fun facts: Reed Smith global managing partner Gregory Jordan and Kalis both graduated from the same high school in Wheeling, West Virginia (Kalis was nine years ahead of Jordan). And both firm leaders are Greek Americans.

Photo by Nate Raymond

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