VIA Festival goers engage with games, music, and more.

The VIA Festival 2014 takes over Pittsburgh Oct. 1-5 and will use the Union Trust Building as its pop-up space on Saturday, Oct. 4, VIA organizers announced today. Though the festival takes place in venues and neighborhoods all over Pittsburgh, holding the main event in the Union Trust Building will be a grand showcase. The offer of its use to VIA demonstrates a willingness to embrace and encourage the unorthodox to advance Pittsburgh’s cultural capital.

Built by Henry Clay Frick in 1915, the ornate building is on the National Register of Historic Places but fell into disrepair in recent years. In March the downtown landmark was purchased by Boston-based real estate investment and development firm The Davis Companies for $14 million. In a press release issued by VIA Larry Lenrow, the Davis Company spokesperson says they, “are delighted to host this cutting-edge, cultural experience.”

The festival will breathe new life into one of the city’s grand structures, opening up areas of the building not previously open to the public and transforming the under-leased space for use as a digital sculpture gallery, interactive gaming realm and dance party. The lower level, never finished, will be set up as a club and audio-visual performance space. VIA’s tenure in the Union Trust Building is space-recycling—calling attention to how a building can outgrow and then regain its usefulness through creative rethinking. The Sprout Fund’s use of the building for its 2008 Hothouse party did the same. Fittingly, VIA got its start with help from the Sprout Fund, which granted the organization a Seed Award in 2010.

VIA brings together local, national, and international artists to hold exhibitions and workshops in partnership with local organizations to explore the intersection of emerging music, new media art, and technology. Now in its fifth year, the festival has grown in scope and prominence, even expanding to include a full line-up of events in Chicago.

Events and tech coverage for the full VIA lineup will be coming soon from NEXT. Tickets cost between $70-$100.

Margaret J. Krauss is a writer, radio producer, and researcher. If not biking Pittsburgh's streets or swimming its rivers, she is likely geeking out about a really good story.