There are some American cities that never change. However, the most interesting of them are constantly reinventing themselves, finding new ways to remain relevant in an increasingly fast-paced and evolving world. A few years back, we had the opportunity to work on an intriguing project in a fascinating city while executing the re-design of the Westin Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania sits at the convergence of three rivers – the Monongahela, Alleghany, and Ohio – and is in the midst of somewhat of a renaissance. Although the Steel City still displays elements of its Gilded Age heyday, the downtown and waterfront districts are examples of how modern lifestyle tastes and methods of doing business are re-shaping cityscapes and civil engineering projects across the country.
Formerly a center of industry for steel production, the Western Pennsylvania town is home to several universities, important museums, and the occasional relic of its industrial past. Expansive waterfronts, once home to manufacturing factories, warehouses and shipping centers, are being converted into exciting new venues featuring restaurants, breweries, and note-worthy public spaces. The city is increasingly attracting educated millennials, as Uber, Google, and Ford have all set up shop in recent years – alongside a flourishing robotics industry, thanks mostly to the Carnegie Mellon Institute and substantial investments from NASA.
As innovation moves into the city’s heart, neighborhoods like Lawrenceville have seen a massive growth in 18 – 25 year olds, who with them bring hip and modern lifestyle amenities. Affordable housing and a quality of life earn the city high marks, and have begun to attract transplants from Philadelphia and New York. With the influx of new blood to the city, fair trade coffee shops, music clubs, galleries, and a noteable restaurant scene (Zagat recently named it the country’s best) are sure to draw tourists interested in exploring the vibrant town, and taking a ride in a self-driving Uber.
This all sets the stage for a unique setting in which to approach new hospitality projects. Located in the Cultural District, the Sawyer & Company designed Westin Pittsburgh is uniquely situated right in the heart of this “Brain Belt” success story – within walking distance to riverfronts, the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Heinz Hall, and several key downtown neighborhoods. A towering green wall greets guests – a not-so-subtle reminder of the progressive ethos that is increasingly pervasive throughout the stimulating city, and just one of the notable aspects of the hotel’s redesign – overseen and imagined by our team.