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

Ton Pottery Back in Business

The ceramics teaching studio has moved from Lawrenceville to a bigger space in Millvale.

Making His Mark in Pittsburgh Restaurants

Mark F. Flaherty, one of the nation’s most prominent liquor lawyers, is passionate about Pittsburgh restaurants.

The Mister Rogers Documentary Has Debuted at Sundance

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

The Original Score from “Jaws” on Vinyl? Yeah, We Got That

Vinyl Remains in Dormont is not interested in offering an endless variety of records, but what you will discover are rarities, classics and hard-to-find curiosities.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: Pittsburgh's Oldest Surviving Skyscraper

The 15-story Park Building and the 14-story Carnegie building went up in the the late 1800s just a block away from each other Downtown. Today, only the Park Building still stands.

Fitness You'll be Feeling in the Morning

IM=X Pilates and Fitness combines exercise science and tradition for a full-body workout.

Music, Love & Crystals Make Up New Bridal Accessory Line by Local Designer

A local business owner has launched a new collection of bridal accessories featuring her own personal touch.

The Battle of The Hollywood

Dormont's historic Hollywood Theater faces an uncertain future after news of a potential sale prompted an immediate public furor.

Three Rivers Champion: Cecile Springer

A self-proclaimed “loudmouth,” Springer says her favorite part of volunteering is meeting other people and persuading them to do what she wants them to do.

Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Reviews of "Phantom Thread," "Call Me By Your Name," "Den of Thieves" and new animated releases, plus local movie news and notes.

Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

What is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to nominate your local favorites in multiple categories.

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Restaurant Review: or, The Whale

The Downtown restaurant is a captivating, if costly, catch.

Celebrating 5 Pittsburghers Who Built Careers Behind the Bar

Pittsburgh is a city that celebrates its neighborhood bars. In some of those spots, second- and third-generation regulars are pulling up their stools to be served by someone who started pouring drinks decades ago.

Second Chances: Crossroads in the Kitchen

People working to overcome substance abuse problems and ex-offenders discover a welcoming environment in restaurant kitchens.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


The Mister Rogers Documentary Has Debuted at Sundance

The Mister Rogers Documentary Has Debuted at Sundance

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

Comments

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

The Tongdee family now operates Burgh Thai in Verona.

Comments

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Chefs Becca Hegarty and Rick Easton to cook comfort food to help Hegarty’s mother.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

What is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to nominate your local favorites in multiple categories.

Comments

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Here are some of our favorite ‘Burgh-inspired gifts for him, her, kids, foodies and more.

Comments


The Battle of The Hollywood

The Battle of The Hollywood

Dormont's historic Hollywood Theater faces an uncertain future after news of a potential sale prompted an immediate public furor.

Comments

Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

The bar, which hosted a bizarre incident involving a top Steelers coach, is fine enough for the post-collegiate set.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Until they solve it, the Steelers are more of a Fantasy League team than they are a Super Bowl team.

Comments

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

The Patriots are to the Steelers what Moby Dick was to Captain Ahab and that kind of obsession can backfire.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Reviews of "Phantom Thread," "Call Me By Your Name," "Den of Thieves" and new animated releases, plus local movie news and notes.

Comments

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

Reviews of "The Post," "I, Tonya" and "The Commuter," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Music, Love & Crystals Make Up New Bridal Accessory Line by Local Designer

Music, Love & Crystals Make Up New Bridal Accessory Line by Local Designer

A local business owner has launched a new collection of bridal accessories featuring her own personal touch.

Comments

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

A lot of grooms-to-be propose on Mt. Washington. Not many decorate beforehand.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Ton Pottery Back in Business

Ton Pottery Back in Business

The ceramics teaching studio has moved from Lawrenceville to a bigger space in Millvale.

Comments

Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Downtown is booming as plans develop for yet another new apartment building.

Comments