Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler

Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler
Jun 24, 2011 The artistic and cultural inclusions in Gensler’s design for Fairmont Pittsburgh unveil a sense of discovery into the city’s historic industrial and societal past

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Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler_01 Several sense-of-place motifs drive the design of the Fairmont. In the lobby, a feature wall displaying Andy Warhol artwork immediately sets the tone for guests, as they proceed to the front desk that echoes the building’s angular façade. A glass enclosed fireplace, surrounded by locally quarried stone, and a 15-ft.-high wooden sculpture, commissioned from a local artist, give a hand-finished charm to the sleek aesthetic.
Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler_02 The lobby bar Andys, which is tucked away in a niche off of the lobby and named for the aforementioned famous Pittsburgh-based artists, takes on an artful inspiration, offering an intimate space with low-ceilings, an impressive winerack, and large industrial gear-shaped lighting fixtures overhead.
Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler_03 But what really sets the hotel apart is the trove of 19th-century artifacts that were uncovered from 10 wells located during the Fairmont’s construction, which had Henry and senior project designer Miyuki Yamaguchi acting like “kids in a candy shop” when they first encountered the findings. The wells had been used as dumping grounds for previous tenants in the neighborhood, including a department store and a tea shop. All told, the designers sifted through more than 20,000 artifacts, from perfume and beer bottles to figurines and dinnerware.
Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler_04 The designers incorporated the discoveries in several ways. Each elevator bank contains steel-framed vitrines, whose glass has been carved and backlit in the Victorian style known as lithopane, to showcase the treasures on display. Art consultant Rhonda Goodall of Louisville, Kentucky, used enlarged, digitally enhanced images that focus on revealing details of specific artifacts, like china dolls, and introduce a contemporary feel to the proceedings.
Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler_05 For Yamaguchi, these techniques just cement the overarching sense of "old meets new" that governs the property. "The first thing you think of with a Fairmont property is the white marble and other classic touches," she says. "Yet, this is a brand new building in a very modern city. So the carpet design has traditional motifs but they're expressed in a stylized Warhol fashion. For example, we use historic florals but shift the palettes in surprising ways."
Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh by Gensler_06 In guestrooms, the team turned to Pittsburgh itself for inspiration, drawing blues from the city's famous rivers and neon hues like lime from its iconic bridges. "We were very aware of honoring Fairmont's commitment to recognizing the area's local authenticity," says Henry, describing the final results as a coherent narrative of Pittsburgh.

“From our perspective, the design goal of this project was simple: create a contemporary and sustainably-focused hotel that pays homage to Pittsburgh’s heritage,” says Len Czarnecki, Fairmont Pittsburgh general manager. “I can absolutely say that this goal was achieved and am very pleased with the thoughtful design throughout Fairmont Pittsburgh.”