Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Kaufmann's Second Chance: a Pittsburgh Icon Goes High Tech

The former Downtown department store gets a high-tech makeover as it transforms into 311 luxury apartments as well as a hotel and retail space.




Photos by John Altdorfer

 

A beloved piece of Pittsburgh history is now at the forefront of high-tech, high-style living.

The iconic Kaufmann’s department store Downtown has been transformed into 311 new luxury apartments equipped with voice-command technology that developers say is the first of its kind in the city. Through a partnership with Amazon, residents of Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth Avenue can use the Alexa cloud-based voice service to control each unit’s surround sound, room temperature, lighting, televisions, window shades and more. 

“When we come into a market, we have to find what doesn’t exist,” says Michael Samschick, president of Core Realty, the Philadelphia-based company that owns the building. “We went to every apartment building and said, ‘What does not exist in Pittsburgh? What can we bring here that’s different?’ That’s when we came into the automation piece of it.”
 

 
Units are equipped with voice-command technology that can be used to control lighting, temperature and surround sound.
 

Core Realty purchased the building in 2015, after the former occupant, Macy’s, announced plans to close its Downtown location. Macy’s had been in the space for nine years, but most Pittsburghers associate the building with its occupant of more than a century, Kaufmann’s. The department store’s historic flagship location, known as The Big Store, opened in 1886 and underwent several extensive renovations during its long run before Macy’s took over the space in 2006. The cherished clock at Fifth and Smithfield remains, as both the store and the clock hold historic landmark designation from the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.
 


The open kitchen plans feature stainless steel appliances, cherry cabinetry and granite countertops.
 

In addition to the apartments, the 1.2-million-square-foot building also will be home to retail and office space and a 160-room EVEN Hotel set to open in the spring. Samschick says Core was drawn to the building’s bones, then, “almost immediately thereafter, it became, ‘What does that building represent? What’s the impact it had on Pittsburgh? How can we take that history and take it to another level?’”

All of the apartments, ranging from 427-square-foot studios to 1,059-square-foot two-bedrooms, allow residents to live a practically hands-free lifestyle. Everything from the lighting to the privacy shades to the coffee maker is voice-controlled. Residents can even make reservations for the rooftop tennis courts or order a meal from the hotel’s room service simply by speaking the request.

For those who prefer to be more hands-on, each unit comes with an iPad connected to the smart system. Residents also can control everything remotely via smartphones.
 


A workspace located adjacent to the kitchen is  enhanced by natural sunlight, plus views of Downtown.
 

“It’s as tech as you’re ever going to get in any type of living environment. It’s truly a different living experience,” says Samschick. “When Kaufmann’s was here, it was the largest retail building in Pittsburgh. It was the first with escalators and elevators. Now it’s the first to be fully automated. It went from ‘The Flintstones’ to ‘The Jetsons.’”

The space-age aspect isn’t the only thing drawing residents to Kaufmann’s Grand, where other amenities abound. In addition to the tennis courts, the building features a state-of-the-art gym and spa, an outdoor park in the center of the building, and a rooftop with a restaurant and bar deck overlooking an infinity pool. Rent prices range from $1,378 a month for a studio to $2,371 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to the Kaufmann’s Grand website.

“We look at this as a city under one roof,” Samschick says. “You can have everything you need here, from walking your dog to parking inside. You never need to leave.”
 The apartments make use of open-concept floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows to create inventive yet serene living spaces. Glass walls separating the master bedroom and bathroom create the illusion of added space and feature voice-controlled privacy shades. A glass transom on the wall between the bedroom and kitchen lets in natural light.

“We like that natural light coming in to make it feel roomier, open and more expansive,” says Samschick.
 


 

A neutral palette of greys and whites coupled with hardwood floors and crown and base molding creates a clean, comfortable feel. An open kitchen features stainless steel appliances, cherry cabinetry and granite countertops. The peninsula bar offers seating, and a versatile space just beyond it can be used as an additional dining area, a workspace or simply as a spot to sit and take in the views. Residents of interior-facing units can look up to see the tops of the nearby city skyline or down to a glass atrium below. Exterior-facing apartments offer views of Downtown. If they need more than a view for entertainment, residents can use one of the two smart TVs that come with each unit — one in the living space and a second in the bathroom.
 


 

The neutral palette carries into the bathroom, though here it results in a more dramatic effect. Turkish marble tile striped in gray and white in a stretcher bond pattern covers the floor and shower and climbs up a quarter of the wall. A back-lit mirror above a sleek white vanity adds to the contemporary vibe.

Cutting-edge design choices do more than create a specific aesthetic — they are a reminder to residents that they are living in a space unlike any other.

“Everything you come into (in the building) will be tomorrow’s world in today’s space from yesterday’s opportunities,” says Samschick.  
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The 400-Word Review: The Equalizer 2

An unnecessary sequel to the Denzel Washington action flick arrives for a quick beat-em-up fix.

The 400-Word Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The sequel to the 2008 ABBA musical is far from perfect, but might have enough charm to keep you on board.

You're Going to Be Upside Down a Lot on New Kennywood Coaster

Kennywood has revealed its replacement ride for “The Log Jammer” which will be located in a new portion of the park entitled “Steelers Country.”

Restaurant Review: Poulet Bleu

Richard DeShantz steps it up with a move from Downtown to Lawrenceville and shows Pittsburgh how to make French dining fun.

Pittsburgh to Host Nation’s First Black Beer Festival

Day Bracey and Ed Bailey of Drinking Partners Podcast and Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture online magazine will bring 12 black-owned breweries to Pittsburgh in August for Fresh Fest.

Coming Clean: Why We Aren't a Green City ... Yet

Pittsburgh is no longer a smoky city, but that doesn’t mean it has cleaned up its act. Pittsburgh's air quality still ranks among the worst in the nation. What steps are being taken to reduce Pittsburgh's ongoing dependence on fossil fuels?

Ultimate Comfort Food: The Joy of Dumplings

Why our dining critic thinks dumplings might be his ultimate comfort food.

Our Seven Favorite Dumplings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, of course, is best known for the pierogi. Our love of dumplings extends beyond that, however. These seven dumplings are our favorite restaurant versions of their various styles.

The Tailor's Dumpling: Kreplach

A Pittsburgh chef and his family continue to craft a family recipe with roots in Poland.

The Pittsburgh Region's Top Dentists 2018

Our annual list, which contains 376 dentists across 11 specialities, as determined by topDENTISTS.

A Weekend Mission of Mercy in Pittsburgh

More than a thousand people come to PPG paints arena once a year for free dental care, thanks to an ambitious, all-volunteer effort.

Jump Into the River: Open Waters Beckons Strong Swimmers

It takes a strong swimmer and the right timing to dive into the three rivers. for those up to it, the difference between the pool and open water is profound.

Pirates Are Still a Long Way From a Hollywood Ending

Despite an 8-1 winning streak going into the All-Star break, the Bucs are in desperate need of a sequel, not only to win back some credibility with fans, but also to convince their owner not to sell off more pieces of the team.

National Aviary's New Renovations Make it Essential Pittsburgh

It's time to add the National Aviary to the list of local favorites you visit again and again.

PM on KD: Family City Guide 2018

PM Associate Editor Sean Collier appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our Family City Guide for 2018-2019.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


You're Going to Be Upside Down a Lot on New Kennywood Coaster

You're Going to Be Upside Down a Lot on New Kennywood Coaster

Kennywood has revealed its replacement ride for “The Log Jammer” which will be located in a new portion of the park entitled “Steelers Country.”

Comments

Tom Hanks May Have Found Co-Star for Fred Rogers Film

Tom Hanks May Have Found Co-Star for Fred Rogers Film

One of the stars of FX's “The Americans” is reportedly in talks to appear in the Mister Rogers flick “You Are My Friend.”

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh to Host Nation’s First Black Beer Festival

Pittsburgh to Host Nation’s First Black Beer Festival

Day Bracey and Ed Bailey of Drinking Partners Podcast and Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture online magazine will bring 12 black-owned breweries to Pittsburgh in August for Fresh Fest.

Comments

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.

Comments

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Leave enough time in your next visit to Kennywood to revisit some old favorites and these underrated gems.

Comments


National Aviary's New Renovations Make it Essential Pittsburgh

National Aviary's New Renovations Make it Essential Pittsburgh

It's time to add the National Aviary to the list of local favorites you visit again and again.

Comments

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates Are Still a Long Way From a Hollywood Ending

Pirates Are Still a Long Way From a Hollywood Ending

Despite an 8-1 winning streak going into the All-Star break, the Bucs are in desperate need of a sequel, not only to win back some credibility with fans, but also to convince their owner not to sell off more pieces of the team.

Comments

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: The Equalizer 2

The 400-Word Review: The Equalizer 2

An unnecessary sequel to the Denzel Washington action flick arrives for a quick beat-em-up fix.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The 400-Word Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The sequel to the 2008 ABBA musical is far from perfect, but might have enough charm to keep you on board.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Return to your roots before your relationship blooms into a beautiful marriage.

Comments

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

Comments

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

Comments