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Architecture Pittsburgh

Giovannitti House

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Over the summer I noticed the Giovannitti house was posted on a realtor site for sale. A while back I was invited for a tour but due to crazy schedules, I missed my chance. This is always a regret of mine but next best thing is seeing beautiful photos online.

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Photos by Allison Pochapin

Architect Richard Meier started construction on this gem in 1979 and finished it in 1983. Meier is known for creating most of his work in white and I think it works for his projects. When you look over his portfolio, it makes an interesting statement.

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This house isn’t for everyone but I see it as a piece art. There’s no other place like this in Pittsburgh! Made up of concrete, glass panes, glass blocks and timber, the Giovannitt’s have kept it up nicely. I can’t imagine how to keep the white clean on the outside, especially during our winters.

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The design of the exterior looks like a sculpture to me.

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I posted a couple photos of this house in 2012 and since then, I get emails and comments at a rate that I didn’t expect. Please note, I do not know the status of the place. They might have sold it or decided to stay. I also have NO personal contact with the owners. I’m posting this because I admire this house and I think it’s a work of art.

Architecture Pittsburgh

North Side’s Colorful Doors

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When Quelcy and I agreed to meet, the plan was to catch up and chat over coffee. I just moved back to the area after a few months in Cleveland and there was a lot to talk about. After our cups were empty, we took a stroll around the North Side. Quelcy studied architecture so I can always count on her to point out interesting details that I might miss.

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When I come to this neighborhood, it feels like I am in another city. It’s charming with interesting brick houses and colorful doors. We took our time while walking around and taking it all in. Here are some of the doors that caught my eye.

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Not colorful, but I LOVE the type

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This photo is by Quelcy Kogel

Architecture Cleveland

Abandoned Spaces in CLE

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By Johnny Joo

Cleveland is rebuilding itself at a rapid pace and I love witnessing the direction it’s heading. Buildings are being turned into new apartments, restaurants, artist studios and store fronts. The difference here verses Pittsburgh is it’s not focused all on condos. I like that I read more about new restaurants, breweries and stores opening rather than another huge condo complex. Maybe I have seen more of it in Pittsburgh since I lived near East Liberty and it left me feeling a little bitter.

That being said, there are still abandoned buildings that exist and are easy to find here. I like exploring and appreciate the spaces that were once a factory, a station or a school. Take a look:

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Geauge Lake

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Cleveland Clinic, 2014 by Thom Sheridan

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Abandoned observatory by Scott

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By Kaylah of the Dainty Squid

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Not sure where this in in Cleveland. It looks like it has good bones. By Scott

Architecture Cleveland

Slow Down, Explore, and Enjoy!

Cocoa / Milk / Sugar. My favorite picture I've taken in Cleveland so far.

When I moved to Cleveland, I felt like I needed to quickly jump in and know everything right away. I get lost often, I don’t have many pals yet, and I haven’t found my go-to spots. After rethinking it, I stopped being hard on myself. I’m used to running into friends in Pittsburgh and having plans on the weekends.

My friend Chris, made this hand lettered print you see above. She posted it on Instagram, then was kind enough to mail me an awesome package of her goodies from Germany. Side note: We met in 2006 on MySpace, kept in touch all these years but still haven’t met each other in person! 

Her piece made me think about the new year, slowing down a bit and just be excited about the possibilities. I think we get caught up in the fast pace of life and making huge resolutions that we forget by March.

Now one of my goals is to slow down and take time for myself. I want to appreciate the things that this city has. I have a hard time pausing and taking it easy without feeling bad. It’s something I’m actively trying to change.

I have started to take drives on the weekends, sometimes bike when the weather is nice and walk my dog on streets I’ve never been before. I’m a fan of making lists, so I purchased this passion planner. You can create different types of goals, lists, it has lots of space to write down your thoughts and what your focus is for that week.

In the meantime, here are things I’ve capture in the last few days:

I love how they painted angles on this house!

I love how they painted angles on this house!

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This building and the angles of the fire escape caught my eye

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Entry way to the antique store, Sweet Lorain. There’s a lot to look at here. For Cleveland, it’s a bit overpriced and stuffy but I would recommend people to check it out.

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I came across this house while I was driving around. It looked as if it needed some updates but look at those windows!

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Lake Erie frozen

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Building doorways usually have names here. Meet Lucille

Building doorways usually have names here. Meet Lucille

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From my front porch

From my front porch

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Cleveland Art Museum has a couple Warhol pieces. Marilyn x 100 (detail), 1962. Andy Warhol

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Peter B Lewis Building by Frank Gehry. This was hard to photograph because of it’s location.

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Just a garage door that caught my eye

Architecture Art Cleveland Pittsburgh

Don’t Underestimate Cleveland

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In 2012, I was about to attend a conference in Cleveland, Ohio and was looking for recommendations for things to do. My friends from Pittsburgh talked a lot of smack on Cleveland. I was also guilty of doing this. Besides the ridiculous rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, I was hanging on to outdated recollections of the city I visited in the 90’s when I was just 14 years old. What I remember were mostly buildings that were run down, abandoned, or dirty looking. I heard it referred to as “the mistake on the lake.” What I wasn’t taking into consideration was that I didn’t live in Pittsburgh until I was 18, and the truth is, Pittsburgh was underdeveloped and run down as well, I just didn’t remember it that way. Now that I’ve gotten to know both cities better, I’ve come to think of these two places as rustbelt sister cities.

Just like Pittsburgh, Cleveland has a rich industrial history that includes steel, oil and automobiles. I’m sure you are familiar with the name Rockefeller. Instead of the Carnegie family of Pittsburgh, Cleveland had the Rockefellers who grew up in Strongsville, a suburb of Cleveland, and started Standard Oil which was the largest oil company in the United States. I won’t bore you with all the historic facts on Cleveland. My main point is that it’s similar to Pittsburgh in its industrial history and growth.

Euclid Avenue was known as Millionaire's Row and had over 300 mansions. Above is John D. Rockefeller's mansion.

Euclid Avenue was known as Millionaire’s Row and had over 300 mansions. Above is John D. Rockefeller’s mansion.

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Cleveland's skyline

Cleveland’s skyline

If you didn’t already know, I relocated to Cleveland at the end of October to live with my partner. She owns a successful boutique in Lakewood. My decision to make the move here was both difficult and easy. Difficult since I love Pittsburgh and I knew I would miss my friends, but I was looking forward to making a home with my girl. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh a total of 15 years but have moved a lot so I was ready to try a new place.

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The Arcade inside the Hyatt Regency

The Arcade inside the Hyatt Regency

Cleveland skyline, Lake Erie

Cleveland skyline, Lake Erie

West Side Market in Ohio City

West Side Market in Ohio City

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The best things I’ve discovered about Cleveland so far:

The spectacular art museum that is always FREE to visit
Buying or renting large properties is incredibly affordable
Development is happening at a steady pace, but there’s still space for young businesses to grow
The food scene is pretty amazing
I live near a beach and it’s beautiful
The Emerald Necklace, which is the large hiking and multi-use trail of Cleveland Metroparks is incredible
The West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest market and I might like it even more than Pike Place in Seattle.

I’m still exploring!

My favorite ghost sign so far

My favorite ghost sign so far

Cleveland Art Museum's digital wall

Cleveland Art Museum’s digital wall

Mural by artist RAE of Pawn Works

Mural by artist RAE of Pawn Works

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Power plant by the coast

Terminal Tower, photo by Coville Photography

Terminal Tower, photo by Coville Photography

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I love the sunsets here

I love the sunsets here

When I met my partner Rachel, one of the first things she said to me was how wonderful she thought her city was and that she couldn’t wait to show me around. I was curious about Cleveland, but never thought I would move here. Over time I started to fall in love with the different qualities of the city. I love their historic past and how they came back from a hard struggle to what you see today. There’s something so charming about living in a city of underdogs. There are are lot of creative people here filled with hope and optimism. Pittsburgh will always have my heart but it’s easy for me to feel at home here. People are friendly, there’s a lot to explore, everywhere you turn there’s beautiful architecture, there’s a great art scene, the city is culturally very diverse, and I’m excited to put some roots down.

Steeltown Anthem will continue but in addition to Pittsburgh, I will also be featuring Cleveland. I hope to show all of you the things I’ve come to love here. Perhaps it will inspire you to get in your car and make the 2 hour trip.

Architecture Neighborhoods

New plans for Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District – how will this unfold

Courtesy of BIG

News broke that Danish architecture firm BIG unveiled its masterplan for the Lower Hill District, the site of the former Civic Arena. The new plan covers 28 acres of area and will feature sloped-roof buildings, housing units, and an extensive network of pathways that will connect the Hill District to downtown.

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BIG is working with landscape architecture firm West 8, sustainability experts Atelier Ten, and local firm La Quatra Bonci Associates.

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“The masterplan for the Lower Hill District is created by supplementing the existing street grid with a new network of parks and paths shaped to optimize the sloping hill side for human accessibility for all generations. The paths are turned and twisted to always find a gentle sloping path leading pedestrians and bicyclists comfortably up and down the hillside. The resulting urban fabric combines a green network of effortless circulation with a quirky character reminiscent of a historical downtown. Topography and accessibility merging to create a unique new part of Pittsburgh.” —Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.

Wylie Avenue and Townsend Street

Wylie Avenue and Townsend Street

The Hill, or “Little Harlem” as it was referred to from the ’30s thru the ’50s, was one of the elite African-American neighborhoods in America. The Hill District was once home to playwright August Wilson, the Granada Theatre, The Crawford Grill, a vibrant jazz scene and the only Black-owned baseball stadium.

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Crawford Grill, photo by Charles “Teenie” Harris

In 1956, demolitions began to clear land for the Civic Arena and dozens of streets were leveled. Some 8,000 residents lost their homes, and the arena broke the connection between the lower Hill District and downtown. The neighborhood and people became an afterthought.

Charles “Teenie” Harris with protesters holding signs outside Civic Arena, Lower Hill District, October 1961. Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund.

Charles “Teenie” Harris with protesters holding signs outside Civic Arena, Lower Hill District, October 1961. Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund.

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Crystal Barber Shop and Crystal Billiard Parlor, with clock reading 2:25, Wylie Avenue, Hill District, c. 1941–1946, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Crystal Barber Shop and Crystal Billiard Parlor. Wylie Avenue, Hill District, 1941–1946. Agfa Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Exterior of the Loendi Club, 83 Fullerton Avenue, Hill District, July 1946, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, © 2006 Teenie Harris Archive

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Exterior of the Loendi Club, 83 Fullerton Avenue, Hill District, July 1946, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Carnegie Museum of Art, Heinz Family Fund, © 2006 Teenie Harris

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Mayor Bill Peduto said: “This announcement is not just about developing. It’s about how adding on to what we have, which is already incredibly special, and building something for the next 50 years. By bringing BIG in, we’re taking that next big step on these 28 acres, and we’re looking at a way of not just building buildings there.”

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“BIG’s masterplan seeks to become a catalyst for future investment into the Hill District, moving beyond the standard sustainability solutions and reversing a tendency to vacate, and instead to refocus and reinvest into building a strong community,” said Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a partner at BIG.

For years there have been talks to revitalize this neighborhood. It’s slowly been happening but my hopes are they keep the community in mind as they move forward with this much development. One of my favorite architectural writers Charles Rosenblum wrote an interesting piece in the City Paper asking the question “Are new plans for the Lower Hill for building, or for show?” This is a great question. Will it be another East Liberty where we evict people that can’t afford a $2,000 a month condo? Or have we learned anything from this? I’m interested to see how things will actually unfold for this community.

Architecture Interior

Perfect Fall Trip to Kentuck Knob

Kentuck Knob Side View

I grew up 15 minutes away from Chalk Hill. As a kid my parents took us on short hiking trips up the mountains where the trails were endless and the scenery was beautiful. When I moved to Pittsburgh, I learned more about Frank Lloyd Wright and the beautiful structures he created. My mom swears she took us to Fallingwater, though I don’t recall ever visiting, and I feel like would not have forgotten. As a person who runs a site dedicated to design admiration, I felt I was long overdue for a visit. In an unfortunate turn of events, I went to purchase two tickets to for a tour, and they were sold out for the season. My next best choice was the lesser famous, but still stunning Kentuck Knob, another FLW gem.

View into Kitchen at Kentuck Knob
Photos by Quelcy T. Kogel

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Architecture

House of Gold

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My zip code is 15221, this area is Wilkinsburg or some will just call it Regent Square. I first moved to this neighborhood in 2000. Back then Craigslist didn’t exist and you had to browse through the newspaper for apartments. I made an appointment to see one on Whitney Avenue. It was an older, four story home that was painted a pink with a huge porch and a back yard. I applied and got the place! My family seemed concerned about the move to this neighborhood. Me being young, I really didn’t care and I had a good feeling about my new apartment. My landlords lived below me and were very welcoming.

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Architecture

Pittsburgh Photo Walk

This Saturday I’m doing a Photo Walk in collaboration with the folks who are running Web Design Day this weekend! Val suggested I put together something to show people around the city. I like to explore Pittsburgh from garage tops, alleyways and all the other places tour guides won’t normally take you. We meet at 10am by the Warhol Bridge, tickets are FREE but space is limited! Here’s a little preview:


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