City Guide: 8 Places to Visit in Pittsburgh

In our July/August 2014 issue, architect Andrew Moss walks us through the home he and his wife, electrical engineer Michelle Yanefski, built for their family in Pittsburgh's up-and-coming Lawrenceville neighborhood. Here, in his own words, Moss offers his take on the rapidly evolving city—a once-industrial beacon in the midst of transforming into a creative hotbed. (And click through the slideshow for his top design picks in Steel City, from where to shop for Eames furniture to the best place for Mexican dinner.)

The city has embraced its urban neighborhoods. We’ve seen a lot of investment into the neighborhoods, into the old business districts and the main streets. These were main commercial streets that had fallen by the wayside, and there are lots of vacant storefronts. What we’ve seen in the past five, ten years is a lot of new energy being put into these areas—new stores, new restaurants. People are moving back into the city who had been in the suburbs.

Pittsburgh is such a neighborhood town. There’s something like 90 neighborhoods that make up the city, and each one is very distinct. It’s such a hilly city that the topography really helps to isolate all these neighborhoods. Each one has its own characteristics about it.

Part of it also is that city is finally embracing its rivers. The city grew up with the steel industry and the rivers were just a means of transportation—they were polluted, and all the industries lined the shores. Over the past 50 years, and over the past five to 10 years moreso, the rivers have been reclaimed for new, better uses that engage the riverfront. There are new bike trails all over the place. People are getting outdoors.

Pittsburgh has a grittiness about it as a whole. People aren’t ashamed of it, they’re fine with it. They aren’t looking for things to be too polished or perfect. They don’t want just bland buildings that could be found almost anywhere. There’s a desire to keep that aspect of the urban character.

—Andrew Moss, architect

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