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Iconic Pittsburgh building mixes modern feel in historic setting

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Saturday, April 7, 2018, 8:39 p.m.

The Pennsylvanian in downtown Pittsburgh — most recognized by its iconic entrance rotunda — has seen much since being built in the early 1900s, including a recently completed second transformation.

The building, designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham, was originally Pittsburgh's Penn Station when it was completed in 1904. A previous renovation in 1987-88 converted the building's office space into apartments.

This facelift project began in the summer of 2017 by JMC Holdings, a New York real estate agency that bought the property a year earlier. The company is investing $12 million into renovating the luxury apartments and event spaces, including adding state-of-the-art amenities, while preserving the historical significance of the landmark. The latest update includes a new lounge, coffee bar, snack area and fitness center.

“We fell in love with this building,” says Christopher G. Deppoliti, asset management for New York City-based JMC Holdings. “We made it a priority to maintain the character of the building because we wanted to keep the classic essence of it. We chose Pittsburgh because we are big believers in this city.”

The building has received an update to many of its amenities while maintaining the classic and traditional look of the place where World War II soldiers departed on their way to defend America.

Some of the original train station benches remain to keep the nostalgia of the space. The stairwells are the same marble of years ago and some of the old water fountains are being used as planters. The large clocks are operating and originals.

Arthur Ziegler, executive director Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, says officials from the company contacted the foundation and discussed the changes they wanted to make.

“They showed very good respect for the building without harming its important architecture,” Ziegler says. “They made it more attractive for residents. They reopened the vestibule leading into the Grand Ballroom, so it's going to be a lot more accessible.”

The Grand Halland rotunda

Many couples have taken engagement and wedding photos under the illuminated dome of the Pennsylvanian's rotunda. Thousands of locals have walked under it on their way to board an Amtrak train.

“We wanted the photos to say ‘Pittsburgh,' but not in super-obvious ways,” says Aire Reese of Lincoln Place, who with husband Matt had engagement photos taken in the rotunda. “We wanted iconic locations that had rich histories, and would help to make our photos have a timeless beauty.”

JMC Holdings restored the facade of the rotunda, which has been featured in commercials and movies shot in the city.

The spectacular 11,000-square-foot event space features arched openings, marble floors, ornate walls and 40-foot vaulted ceilings and skylight as well as terra cotta archways and hand-laid brick flooring.

The Pennsylvanian hosts many events from weddings to parties to corporate events.

At home

The Pennsylvanian's 241 residences inspire a modern, yet luxuriously historic feel with original details, including vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the city. The spaces offer a cool natural palette and warm herringbone flooring.

Stainless steel appliances, in-unit washer/dryer, Nest Thermostat and Protect systems and a designer lighting package are some of the upscale amenities.

There are studio, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments available, as well as penthouse suites. Prices start at $1,101 per month. Residents can sign a one-year or multi-year lease. There are hotel rooms available for businesses or families or friends of residents.

The natural light and the comfortable feel of the space, as well as the close proximity to shopping, dining and entertainment, makes it more than an apartment to residents Patricia and Peter Keim

“This space is fabulous,” says Patricia Keim. “The staff is great and we feel so safe here. They have done a beautiful job of restoring this building. For us, it's about location, location, location. We can walk downtown or to the Strip District. We can get on Amtrak and be in New York City in hours. And that rotunda, it's amazing, how can you beat that rotunda? It's beautiful.”

More than just apartments

Complementing the Pennsylvanian's interiors are amenities such as 24/7 concierge service, a fitness center, underground valet parking, a resident lounge, secure bike storage, mini-mart, dry cleaning and guest suites, all in a pet-friendly building. There also is WiFi, mail and package service and the Sognatore Salon & Spa.

“We are extremely happy with how this turned out,” Deppoliti says. “We spent a lot of time finding the right finishes and doing the upgrades. We love the unique views of Downtown. The Pennsylvanian is our sweet spot because it has such great character and an amazing history.”

The Pennsylvanian is located at 1100 Liberty Ave. Details: 412-368-5997 or thepennsylvanian.com

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or jharrop@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.

The illuminated rotunda at the entrance of The Pennsylvanian is an iconic spot for photos and one of the most recognizable locations in Downtown Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvanian --outside and inside -- has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The illuminated rotunda at the entrance of The Pennsylvanian is an iconic spot for photos and one of the most recognizable locations in Downtown Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvanian --outside and inside -- has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The illuminated rotunda at the entrance of The Pennsylvanian will be the entrance to the first 'Promenade in the Pavilion.' This affair will celebrate the closing of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, while transporting guests to a charming European promenade.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The illuminated rotunda at the entrance of The Pennsylvanian will be the entrance to the first 'Promenade in the Pavilion.' This affair will celebrate the closing of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, while transporting guests to a charming European promenade.
The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new snack bar, one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new snack bar, one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The lobby inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new look. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The lobby inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new look. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The lobby inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new look. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The lobby inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new look. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The area outside the Grand Ballroom inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The area outside the Grand Ballroom inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The Grand Ballroom at The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh is a the perfect space for a wedding or any speical event. The ballroom inside the  historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The Grand Ballroom at The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh is a the perfect space for a wedding or any speical event. The ballroom inside the historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The lobby inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new look. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The lobby inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a new look. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The entryway inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. The historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
FLY OVER PROPERTIES
The entryway inside The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. The historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a full service hair salon -- Sognatore Salon & Spa. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there as well as outside guests. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
JOANNE KLIMOVICH HARROP
The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh has a full service hair salon -- Sognatore Salon & Spa. It is one of the many amenities for the residents who live there as well as outside guests. This historic building has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
The kitchen in one of the penthouses at The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. The historic building --outside and inside -- has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
JOANNE KLIMOVICH HARROP
The kitchen in one of the penthouses at The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. The historic building --outside and inside -- has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
A living room in one of the penthuoses at The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. The historic building --outside and inside -- has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
JOANNE KLIMOVICH HARROP
A living room in one of the penthuoses at The Pennsylvanian in Downtown Pittsburgh. The historic building --outside and inside -- has undergone a transformation over the past year, which includes updates as well as preservation to keep the original classic look.
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