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Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra launches neighborhood chamber concert series

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Music for the Spirit program is expanding to include three chamber music concerts at local churches in the Northside, East Liberty and Wilkinsburg in September.
 
The Music for the Spirit program explores the connection between music and spirituality during free Pittsburgh Symphony concerts, at both Heinz Hall as part of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics series and in rotating community venues.
 
Suzanne Perrino, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra senior vice president of education and strategic implementation, says the series was born from the idea “to create programs that celebrate different faiths [with] music and bring people together.”
 
This month, the Music for the Spirit program adds three concerts featuring the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Brass, which follows the Music for the Spirit concert format, melding music, poetry, readings and other spoken word pieces. Readings are performed between music pieces. Some renditions are from the bible or religious text while other pieces of poetry and prose align with a central, communal message.
 
This is the first chamber series for the Music for the Spirit program. Perrino says this smaller group will provide a more intimate and engaging concert setting. Perrino and Gloria Mou, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra director of musician and community engagement programs, call brass music fun and accessible. They explain that it is rare to have the opportunity to hear the brass portion of the orchestra alone.
 
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Brass includes Craig Knox, tuba; Murray Crewe, bass trombone; Neal Berntsen, trumpet; William Caballero, horn; Peter Sullivan, trombone; and George Vosburgh, trumpet.
 
Monday Night Neighborhood Concerts began at the Allegheny Center Alliance Church on the Northside on September 8.  Upcoming concerts will be held at East Liberty Presbyterian Church on September 15 and Deliverance Baptist Church in Wilkinsburg on September 22. Each Monday Night Neighborhood Concert will present the same program.
 
All concerts start at 8PM and are free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged and can be made at pittsburghsymphony.org/neighborhoodseries or 412-392-8991.
 
The annual Music for the Spirit concerts will take place on November 20 at Westminster Presbyterian in Upper St. Clair and November 22 at Cardinal Wuerl High School in Cranberry. More details about these concerts will be released in the fall.


Source: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Suzanne Perrino, Gloria Mou

Mobile boutique sets up shop in Lawrenceville

When Samantha Lugo was visiting family in New York in 2013, she frequented her first boutique on wheels. She says she was so inspired by the clothes-truck, that she said, “That’s it, I’m bringing this to Pittsburgh!”
 
In July 2013, Lugo did just that and launched Broke Little Rich Girl, Inc. mobile boutique. After one year on the road, Broke Little Rich Girl opened a brick-and-mortar shop in Lawrenceville on Saturday, Sept. 6.
 
Lugo says the 3816 Butler Street store features her signature selection of “urban” and “edgy” designs. She explains that by first launching the mobile shop, she was able to test the Pittsburgh market with styles and see what would sell at a permanent address.
 
“Lawrenceville is just such an up and coming neighborhood,” Lugo says about choosing a site for her store.“I love the vibe.”
 
The Lawrenceville location will offer a wider selection of clothing and sizes. Lugo notes that clothes will be at the same price point as the mobile unit. She said the truck will still roll around Pittsburgh and is available for private parties like “ladies nights,” where cupcakes and wine are included in her rental fee.
 
The store’s opening featured food and drink provided by local businesses, several from Lawrenceville neighbors, including Pittsburgh Winery, La Gourmandine and Coca Café.
 
Source: Samantha Lugo, Broke Little Rich Girl

Fairmont Pittsburgh Chef Jason Dalling will host a one-day, pop-up BBQ stand Friday

Fairmont Pittsburgh Executive Chef Jason Dalling will launch a one-day, pop-up BBQ stand at Andys Bar on Fri., August 29.
 
Julie Abramovic, public relations manager at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, says the pop-up menu will be "simple" and stems from Dalling’s “love for this type of casual cuisine.”

The limited menu will feature a house smoked, grass fed brisket sandwich with pickle and tomato aioli and a peanut braised pulled pork sandwich featuring pineapple and jalapeño aioli — both sandwiches are $12 and come with a side of “old school” coleslaw. All items will be available to-go from a street-side stand along Fifth Avenue.
 
“I came up with the concept because we’re already doing a lot of these house-smoked items for [events], and I wanted to bring them to a larger audience," Dalling says. "Andys is a great outlet for this concept because it is casual and accessible. Depending on how popular the BBQ is, we may decide to offer it more regularly.”
 
Abramovic invites BBQ enthusiasts and the downtown lunch crowd to celebrate the unofficial end of summer and take advantage of this one-day event. She adds that the possibility of future events will be true to the pop-up concept, only announcing the occassion a few days prior.
 
For more information, follow social media campaign “Meat Us at Andys” on Twitter at @FairmontPGH and @AndysPgh.
 
Source: Fairmont Pittsburgh, Julie Abramovic                        
 

West Elm opening next week in Bakery Square

West Elm, a retailer of modern furniture and home decor, is opening next week in Bakery Square.
 
This will be the first Pittsburgh location for the international retailer and its second in the state of Pennsylvania, according to Gregg Perelman, principal at development owner Walnut Capital.
 
“It’s the only one in the market,” Perelman said.
 
He said he thinks the store is a great addition to the high-end, tech atmosphere of Bakery Square. Perelman added that West Elm, a subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, is a good fit when considering Bakery Square’s existing shops, Anthropologie and Trader Joe’s.
 
“They have a very strong mail order base in Pittsburgh,” Perelman added about West Elm’s attraction to setting up shop in the city.
 
With additional housing coming to the community and the development of Bakery Square 2.0, Perelman says the store will have a lot of foot traffic — in addition to being West Elm’s brick-and-mortar site for Western Pennsylvania.
 
West Elm Bakery Square will open Thursday, September 4. To stay apprised of opening news and specials, follow the location on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westelmbksq.
 
Source: Gregg Perelman

TBT: Bar Marco's hot history

It’s no surprise to patrons of Bar Marco that the building has a storied past. In case one misses the “No. 7 Engine Company” emblazoned above the restaurant’s entrance, relics of its 19th century foundation are seen in the tile walls and embellished tin ceiling.
 
The site served as a firehouse — hence the Engine Company — from 1860 to 1949, according to Bar Marco owner Robert Fry. He explains that the building was the last firehouse in the city to stop using horses to pull fire wagons. Fry says the modern entrance of Bar Marco was once the back of the firehouse, where the horses would pull up.  In 1905, the building was reoriented to face Penn Avenue. 
 
There are a few links to the firehouse’s Antebellum history that the customer does not see when visiting Bar Marco. An old hose shaft provides a ladder to the roof and there are bricked in tunnels in the wine cellar that are connected to other original buildings throughout the Strip. According to Fry, these tunnels are rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad.
 
When the Engine Company ceased operation, it became an Iron Workers’ Union Hall — the inspiration for the name of Bar Marco’s second-floor events space, The Union Hall. The building then served as offices before becoming the Firehouse Lounge and Embry.
 
The site began operating as Bar Marco in fall 2011. But before the restaurant opened its doors in January 2012, Fry and his team worked to restore the building’s history.

They pulled down dry wall and a drop down ceiling, renovated floors and brought the site back to its original glory.  
 
“We just did everything we could to bring everything back to its natural beauty,” Fry says.

Source: Robert Fry

Love Your Block announces 14 fall grant recipients

Mayor William Peduto announced last week the 14 organizations that will receive funding for the seventh round of the Love Your Block grant program, a servePGH initiative.
 
The block revitalization program, with help from sponsors, awards $1,000 to purchase supplies and tools to implement a block improvement project that mobilizes community volunteers to transform blighted lots into neighborhood assets. 
 
Sabrina Shaner, LYB coordinator and neighborhood service associate, says the project provides a creative and sustainable solution while “promoting public safety, encouraging real estate and pride.”
 
Melanie Ondek, City of Pittsburgh grants officer working with servePGH, explains that while Pittsburgh is currently growing, the city faced a declining population for five decades resulting in blight. She says community engagement efforts revitalize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life of citizens. 
 
LYB uses “citizen service to tackle city needs,” Ondek says. She adds that, “We see our most successful projects happen when the entire block is engaged.”  
 
The mini-grant initiative began in 2011 and has funded Pittsburgh blocks every fall and spring since its inception. Ondek says LYB has completed 104 projects and assisted 321 blocks with more than 1,000 volunteers who have removed 30,000 plus pounds of litter. Ondek adds that LYB has touched 43 of Pittsburgh’s 98 neighborhoods.
 
“I am happy to announce that LYB is once again uniting neighbors, community members and volunteers to improve their neighborhoods by turning blighted properties into usable green space,” says Mayor Peduto. “These projects exhibit the sense of pride and spirit of volunteerism that are regularly demonstrated by so many citizens that live in the unique neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.”
 
Fall 2014 grant recipients are as follows: 900 Block of Liberty, Beechview Community Garden, The Borland Garden Cooperative, Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council, Grow Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville United, Northside Coalition for Fair Housing, Observatory Hill, Inc., South Pittsburgh Development Corp, Southside Community Council of Pittsburgh, Troy Hill Citizen, Inc., Uptown Partners, West End Alliance and YWCA.
 
LYB is made possible thanks to Peoples Natural Gas, the PNC Foundation and The Home Depot. Peoples Natural Gas donated $15,000 and the PNC Foundation added an additional $10,000, while The Home Depot is providing $9,100 worth of supplies. LYB is also supported by the Corporation for National Community Service, the AmeriCorps VISTA program and it's based on the Cities of Service Blueprint of the same name.
 
Additionally, a special $2,000 prize will be given to the organization that carries out the most successful block transformation, according to identified criteria. Fall project implementation will take place from August 31 to October 31, 2014.
 
Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto, Sabrina Shaner, Melanie Ondek, Love Your Block
 

A bag of produce is your ticket to Red, Ripe and Roasted at Phipps

A bag of fresh produce can gain you admittance to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 10th annual Red, Ripe and Roasted tomato and garlic festival Sun., August 24.
 
Held on the public garden’s sustainably managed front lawn and in the Outdoor Garden, this family-friendly event features cooking demonstrations, a tomato contest, a farmers’ market and activities for kids—all to benefit Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
 
“In general, the event is a celebration of summer and the bounty of summer,” says Jordyn Melino, Phipps exhibit coordinator. She says it's also about sharing this “bounty” with those in need.

While highlighting western Pennsylvania’s quintessential crops, the festival encourages guests to share the season’s harvest with the Food Bank. In 2013, the festival resulted in the collection of 2,174 pounds of food.
 
By donating a bag fresh produce to help community members in need, festival participants will be admitted for free to both Red, Ripe and Roasted and to the conservatory. Guests can experience attractions from the Butterfly Forest to the Summer Flower Show, featuring bright blooms and model train displays, during event hours from 11AM to 4PM.
 
Café Phipps will prepare and share a variety of delicious dishes to sample, there will be cooking demonstrations, a Phipps-grown garlic roast and a farmers’ market featuring organic and Certified Naturally Grown produce—guests can purchase their produce for donation at this market.
 
Another popular festival activity is a tomato contest where home gardeners are invited to enter their ugliest, smallest or largest ripe tomatoes for a chance to win prizes. The event will host a variety of discovery activities to entertain children of all ages. Let’s Move Pittsburgh and several other local organizations will also be in attendance to engage event-goers.
 
Garden writer and television/radio host Doug Oster — author of Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil — and food writer Miriam Rubin, author of Tomatoes, will also be in attendance to present some of their favorite recipes and sign copies of their books.
 
Source: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Jordyn Melino

Pool City Plaza sold to New York investor for more than $3 million

Pool City Plaza, a two-building, 48,500-square-foot retail development located within the Pointe at North Fayette shopping district, has been purchased for $3.05 million by New York-based investor Cohen Equities.
 
Vice presidents of retail brokerage and leasing at Cushman & Wakefield Grant Street Associates, Inc., J. R. Yocco and John Jackson, in conjunction with C-III Realty Services LLC (based in Irving, Texas), worked to solidify a sale for the online auction.
 
“Robinson is a great area. [It has] a lot of retail activity …  [and] activity breeds activity,” Jackson begins. He explains that the site was attractive because the area hosts an active market “with little vacancy.” When Pool City Plaza became available, he says Grant Street Associates realized its value and assessed the site.
 
Cohen Equities has a more than 5-million-square-foot portfolio and acquires a variety of office and retail properties, from fully leased core assets and renovations to re-positioning and leasing of under-utilized properties and the workout of distressed commercial mortgages.
 
"The new ownership sees this as an exciting opportunity with tremendous upside and plans to invest significant capital into Plaza improvements," Yocco says. "Cohen Equities has budgeted for the type of tenant improvement dollars that are necessary to bring new national and powerhouse regional tenants to Pool City Plaza."
 
Pool City Plaza is situated within Pittsburgh's Parkway West-Airport corridor. This area has become one of the largest retail centers in the region, with more than 6.5 million square feet of retail located in a five-minute drive-time.  At the conclusion of the second quarter 2014, the submarket had a vacancy rate of only 2.9 percent and remains a top destination for big box tenants in the market.
 
"The surrounding daytime population coupled with an availability of more than 25,000 contiguous square feet and new capitalized ownership will certainly get Pool City Plaza noticed by midsize retailers emerging in the Pittsburgh market," Jackson says. "The Plaza's proximity to major big box retailers like Target, Home Depot and Best Buy also adds to the project's value."
 
Source: Cushman & Wakefield Grant Street Associates, Inc., John Jackson

New parking options for Eliza Furnace Trail bike commuters

Mayor William Peduto’s administration is providing new daily parking options for bike commuters who use the Eliza Furnace Trail — a stretch of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the Monongahela River's north bank.
 
Parking restrictions put into place in advance of construction of a new protected bike lane on Saline Street in Greenfield displaced some commuters who park their vehicles by the Eliza Furnace trailhead and bike to work each day. Other daily commuters commonly took advantage of free parking on Saline and would take buses to work.
 
This construction is part of the city’s protected bike lane project with lanes being built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park; along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield; and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue, Downtown.
 
Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront says the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is becoming more heavily used, which he says is “a great problem to have.” 

Baxter notes that when Friends of the Riverfront began working on the trail, the project focused on recreation. Today, efforts have expanded to transportation.
 
To continue to encourage biking, the city is planning to add parking spaces to the lot at the Eliza Furnace trailhead and mark them for weekday bike commuters. For those seeking to use the trail for mid-day exercise, parking at other spaces in the trailhead lot will remain restricted to three hours.
 
Work may take a couple of weeks to complete so bike commuters may park their vehicles at the soccer field in Junction Hollow, on Boundary Street just north of Saline Street. From there, bicyclists can connect with the Eliza Furnace trail to get Downtown or go the opposite direction to travel to Oakland.
 
“Pittsburgh is becoming one of the best cities in the country for bicyclists, and we’re doing all we can to add even more bike-friendly infrastructure,” Mayor Peduto says.
 
 
Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto, Thomas Baxter

Construction begins on new Frick Environmental Center

Last week, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh began construction on the new Frick Environmental Center at Frick Park.
 
The Environmental Center is being built in the footprint of the old center that burned down in 2002, off Beechwood Boulevard in the park’s northwest corner.
 
“After many years of enthusiastic community input, dedicated public and private support and careful design and planning, the work to build the new center is now underway,” says Meg Cheever, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
 
A total of 2.5 acres will be cleared at the perimeter of the 644-acre park to allow for construction. To ensure safe operation of equipment, a total of five acres will be temporarily fenced off. Several park trail detours are in effect and visitors are encouraged to visit www.pittsburghparks.org/environmentalcenter for information on specific trails and the area of Frick Park that will be affected.
 
“We are doing our best to minimize the effects on park users,” says Scott Roller, Parks Conservancy senior manager, marketing and communications.

The center will include indoor learning spaces, a public gathering and reception area, public restrooms and offices, as well as an amphitheater built into the hillside, landscape restoration and gardens.
 
Though the new center is being constructed in the same framework as the old building, a second floor and basement will increase usable space.
 
Green initiatives are also being implemented. The new Environmental Center has been designed to meet the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge as well as LEED Platinum standards. The site will incorporate a geothermal heating and cooling system, will fully support its own needs for water and energy and will capture rainwater for irrigation and reuse. 

The Environmental Center will provide children, families and adults from all parts of the city access to environmental education programs. 

“[The center] becomes a gathering place for all things nature and environmentally related,” Roller says. He adds that the park is a “natural classroom” and the building creates a base for learning and programs.

Frick Environmental Center classes are designed with teacher input to align with curriculum requirements in grades K-12 while maximizing time outside in the park. Summer camps are offered for children ages three and up.

The Environmental Center will have a public “living room” area, classroom and meeting spaces. There will be clean, fully-accessible restrooms and places to get fresh water

Since 2011, more than 1,000 people have been involved in a public visioning and planning process for the center that included dozens of input sessions and meetings.  Hundreds more participated in sessions held in earlier years. 
 
“[We are] excited and energized [now] that this moment has come,” Roller says about the years of planning and fundraising.

The project is expected to be completed in two years.
 
Source: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Scott Roller, Heather Sage

Life is Sweet Bakery Café coming soon to Mt. Lebanon

Life is Sweet Bakery Café will open in late August on Bower Hill Road in Mt. Lebanon. The café will offer an assortment of pastries, coffee and a restaurant menu of soups, salads and sandwiches.  
 
Business owners Kelly Bareford and Christine Mains look forward to sharing their new retail space with their neighbors in Mt. Lebanon.
 
“We wanted to open a business in a community that we know and that we’re a part of,” Bareford says.
 
She adds that the 1105 Bower Hill Road café is next to she and Mains’ children’s elementary school, Hoover Elementary School, and that they are excited to open a small business in their neighborhood.
 
The café will offer an assortment of treats crafted by the self-taught baker/confectioners. Some favorites include: apple cake, salted caramels, chocolates, lemon pound cake, cakes made to order for events and Callebaut chocolate dipped coconut macaroons. The shop will also feature 40 different cupcake flavors from chocolate and vanilla staples to chocolate Irish car bomb, tiramisu and rainbow.
 
“It’s always been a dream,” Bareford says about opening Life is Sweet. “We’ve always been bakers.”
 
The retail space will allow seating for approximately 25, coffee, light breakfast and lunch options. There will also be children's menu. To find out about opening news, follow the bakery café on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lifeissweetpgh.
 
Source: Kelly Bareford, Life is Sweet Bakery Café

Principal of evolveEA named to international committee for creating ecodistricts

Christine Mondor, principal of Pittsburgh-based evolveEA, has been selected as one of eighty international experts, practitioners and leaders to be part of the Ecodistricts Global Protocol Advisory Committee, convened by Portland, Ore., non-profit Ecodistricts.org.
 
The Global Protocol Advisory Committee will discuss goals, milestones and deliverables for establishing a broad adoption of ecodistrict planning and sharing of knowledge. Ecodistricts.org holds an annual summit to promote sustainable urban design principles. 
 
“In order to accelerate sustainability, you need to think at the neighborhood scale,” Mondor says. This is where ecodistricts comes into consideration. Instead of acting as a single home or business owner, ecodistricts encourage action at the neighborhood or block level.

Ecodistricts creatively synthesizes ecology, economics and placemaking to create strong communities and community planning projects across the country. 
 
EvolveEA has worked with communities in Western Pennsylvania to incorporate innovative energy, water and food systems into the design of neighborhoods, planned developments and urban districts.
 
Ecodistricts.org describes the Protocol as, “a platform for building district governance and leadership, a framework for unleashing innovation, a system for encouraging and rewarding leadership and a blueprint for creating just, sustainable and resilient cities and neighborhoods for all.”
 
Mondor presented at the annual summit in Boston in November 2013, was part of a Pittsburgh team at the 2014 Ecodistricts Incubator in Portland, Ore. and will be presenting this fall at the Ecodistricts Summit in Washington, D.C.
 
Mondor calls the summits a place where people from around the world working on sustainable projects find “commonalities” in their efforts. She says those who attend conferences and apply for the Global Protocol Advisory Committee hail from across the globe, from Boston to San Francisco, to Europe and even South America.
 
The committee hosted their first meeting earlier this month. Mondor says in addition to sharing common experiences, the committee plans to create a framework for cities starting ecodistricts—providing guides and training tools.

Sustainability consulting and design firm evolveEA has led ecodistrict planning, design and stakeholder education initiatives in a number of communities since 2009. The firm’s approach to promoting equity for community members by fostering grassroots capacity-building has been recognized with design awards and invitations to collaborate nationally and internationally.
 
“I think Pittsburgh is in a really good spot right now to take leadership in this movement,” Mondor says, adding that the city is “ahead of the curve in a lot of ways” and noting green building efforts. She calls the Global Protocol Advisory Committee a convergence of a national movement and local leadership.
 
Source: Christine Mondor, evolveEA

Free day at Phipps next week

Thanks to a generous grant from the Jack Buncher Foundation, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will open its doors free of charge on Monday, Aug. 4. Community members of all ages are encouraged to attend between 9:30AM and 5PM.
 
“We believe that everyone should have the chance to experience the extraordinary beauty and inspiration to be found at Phipps,” says Jack Buncher Foundation Chair Bernita Buncher. “It is one of Pittsburgh’s finest treasures, and we are thrilled to be able to share it with our community in this special way.”
 
Guests who attend this year’s free admission day will enjoy the colorful booms and whimsical model train displays of Summer Flower Show, featuring bright blooms and lush tropical plants.
 
“Our current show is Summer Flower Show, which, this year, has a train theme,” says Liz Fetchin, Phipps director of marketing and communications.

The show incorporates interactive train displays that guests—and children—can operate with the push of a button.

“We invite people of all ages, there is something for everyone to see in the gardens," Fetchin says.
"It really is a great experience for families and children.”
 
The outdoor gardens at Phipps are in full bloom from the Children’s Discovery Garden and Rooftop Edible Garden to the Sustainable Perennial Beds and Aquatic Garden. Fetchin notes that the vegetables and herbs from the Edible Garden are used in programming and in the Café Phipps, named one of the best museum restaurants in the U.S. by Food & Wine Magazine earlier this year.  

“Every year, a free day gives many people the opportunity to pass through our doors and explore the wonders of nature,” says Phipps Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini. “We express our sincere gratitude to the Jack Buncher Foundation for making this gift to our community possible through their great generosity.”
 
Visitors will have the chance to see the Center for Sustainable Landscapes too, and discover one of the greenest buildings in the world. More details can be found at phipps.conservatory.org.
 
 
Source: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Liz Fetchin

The Frick completes first phase of $15 million renovation project

The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze opened its new Orientation Center and Frick Museum Store last weekend, with a wide range of activities including free tours of Clayton, meet-the-architects sessions, free gallery talks and family activities.
 
Located on the Pittsburgh estate of late 19th-century industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the Frick Art & Historical Center is a legacy to the people of Pittsburgh — left by Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick upon her death in 1984.
 
Built by Helen Clay Frick in 1969, The Frick Art Museum displays a permanent collection of European paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from the 13th to 18th centuries.

Clayton, the Henry Clay Frick family mansion, was the home where Frick and his wife Adelaide raised their family until the turn of the century. Their daughter Helen returned home and maintained Clayton as her primary residence. Restored and opened as a house museum in 1990, 93 percent of Clayton’s artifacts are original. The permanent collections include art, cars, carriages and historic objects (including buildings).
 
Also included on the Frick’s 5.5-acre site are the Frick Children’s Playhouse, designed by renowned architects Alden & Harlow; the renovated Orientation Center and Frick Museum Store; a large working greenhouse (also designed by Alden & Harlow); an education center; and The Café at the Frick.
 
The opening of the orientation center marks the completion of the first phase of a $15 million expansion project. The space incorporates educational technology that enables visitors to learn about the Frick family and life in Pittsburgh at the end of the 19th century. It also includes the new Frick Museum Store.
 
A new entrance was constructed at the center of campus in front of the orientation center, between the Car and Carriage Museum and the café, creating a new cohesion for the multi-venue Frick.
 
“The roof kind of floats over the walls,” says architect Jon Traficonte of Schwartz/Silver, a Boston architecture firm that worked with local Loysen + Kreuthmeir Architects on the Frick renovations. Traficonte describes how the wood ceiling is suspended by glass walls at various heights, “folding” up and down to be on scale with surrounding buildings. This feature makes adjacent buildings visible from indoors, helping orient visitors.
 
New technology spearheaded by Seattle’s Belle & Wissell, Co., also assists visitors.
 
“It will allow them to better plan their visit,” says Greg Langel, Frick media and marketing manager about the state of the art interactive maps, touch screens and apps.
 
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the multiplex, three large electronic screens that present information about the collection. There is also an interactive map that allows guests to plot their visit and provides estimated walking times around campus.
 
Two touch tables describe what is on view in the collections. The iPad bar additionally provides history apps and mission related topics to educate museum guests about the Frick family, Pittsburgh, national and global history.
 
Langel described how the renovation creates a balance between futuristic technology and the site’s history, calling it a “modern yet traditional” green building.
 
“I think that architecturally this building is impressive,” he says.
 
To enhance the Frick's environmental sustainability, all Frick expansion project phases adhere to LEED standards. The glass design of the Orientation Center provides a visual connection to the Frick’s park-like setting and enhances the “green” character of the facility through the use of natural daylight. An exterior sun louver system reduces heat-gain and energy consumption required for cooling. Building materials were selected based on recycled and Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content and, where possible, have been harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of Pittsburgh.  "Rain chains" drain water from the roof and hydrate plants on the building’s periphery. The architects also created two new adjacent green spaces.
 
The new museum shop is double the size of the old store. Visitors will find local artisan jewelry, books, kids activity items, art reproductions and Frick products. Pittsburgh artist Audra Azoury created Frick-inspired jewelry for the new shop.
 
The second phase of the expansion project calls for a new education center that will be housed in a renovated facility (the current Carriage Gallery of the Car and Carriage Museum). In addition, a new Carriage Gallery will allow the Frick to better exhibit its important collection of Frick family carriages.
 
In the third phase of the project, the Frick will construct a new community center that will provide additional education and program space and create a venue for rental events. When completed, this plan will join together the multiple components of the Frick, support the enhancement and expansion of its educational offerings and enrich the experience of more than 125,000 annual visitors.


Source: The Frick Art & Historical Center, Greg Langel, Karen Loysen, Jon Traficonte, Kate Blumen

Name that suite! A new hotel downtown invites 'Burghers to do just that

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is opening its first boutique hotel downtown in October, Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh. But before the Steel City’s guests arrive, prospective patrons have the opportunity to name the luxurious one-bedroom spa suites. 
 
From Mon., July 21 to Wed., July 30, the virtual community will be able to submit recommendations for the suite name. The hotel will offer 13 suites. One suite will be titled the Majestic suite, the Monaco’s take on a presidential stay. The other 12 suites will be referred to with the online competition’s winning moniker.
 
The Facebook contest is open to Pennsylvania and Ohio residents. To enter, one must “like” the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh Facebook page and then post their locally-inspired name on the page’s wall with the hashtag #SoundsSoSuite.
 
Three finalists will be selected and another round of voting will run from Aug. 4 through Aug. 11.  The grand prize winner — with the most likes for his or her suggestion — will be the first to stay in the suite on the hotel’s opening night in October and be awarded dinner for two at the hotel’s restaurant.
 
Six random contestants or fans of the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh page will also have the opportunity to win a prize.
 
“Aside from the grand prize, three people who submit names will win an overnight stay with us and three people who vote on the finalists will also win overnight stays,” confirmed Rob Mallinger, Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh general manager.

This 248-room hotel will mark the 11th Monaco site for Kimpton nationally — other cities to boast a Kimpton Hotel Monaco include Philadelphia, Washington DC and San Francisco.                                       

Mallinger says the suites are double the size of a regular hotel bedroom, have flat screen TVs and luxurious bathrooms, including a deep-soaking tub. Kimpton hotels also incorporate local themes in their design. The Pittsburgh hotel’s meeting rooms are named after notable Pittsburghers and the rooms have a black and gold, with hint of turquoise or emerald, color scheme.
 
“One of the great things about Kimpton is the way hotels take on a local identity,” Mallinger says. “As a native of this great city, I could not be more proud to be opening this unique luxury hotel in my hometown.”
 
Mallinger says he is also excited about some of the hotel’s other features debuting this fall. In addition to the warm and courteous staff, Mallinger says the hotel offers complimentary daily wine, there will be a couple of bikes available for guests to cruise through downtown and an “excellent” chef driven restaurant.  The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh will also accommodate pets, offer a 24-hour fitness center and the front desk will be equipped with everything from hair straighteners to heating pads to computer chargers, available for little or no charge through Kimpton’s signature “Forgot It? We’ve Got It” program.
 
“Generally speaking, I thinking the Kimpton is bringing something new to the city,” he says. “We want guests to experience everything we offer.”
 
The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh will open downtown in the Reed Building at 620 William Penn Place in October. For more information and updates, please visit the hotel’s website at www.monaco-pittsburgh.com.
 
 
Source: Jacklin Rhoads of Cashman & Associates,  Rob Mallinger
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