In the East End of Pittsburgh, a project is underway where fans of urban industrial living can plan and design their home from the raw bones of a 17,000-square-foot warehouse. It’s located at 555 Gold Way and called The Paper Lofts.

“We have five full-floor units that give the buyer the potential to design their own space,” says Stephen Mesich owner of Mesich Architecture and Construction and part of the team behind the Paper Lofts.

“This is an opportunity for buyers to rewrite their idea of home. They start with a piece of paper and the design team will make it a reality,” says Dani Gundlach, a RE/MAX realtor who manages the sales and marketing for the project.

“An intense market study found that buyers are looking for larger loft projects,” she says.

Units range from 2,200 square feet to 3,800 square feet—with an average per square foot price of $213—and are true custom builds: if you want half of your space to be an art studio, they’re game. Don’t want walls? They’ll make it work. Like green living? They’ll help to make it sustainable. The buyer can go minimalist or high-end. Mesich has drawn plans for each floor if that’s what the buyer prefers.

“The building is located in the Urban Industrial Zoning District, and we are really trying to keep the feel of a warehouse,” he says. “Just big, big open with as high ceilings as possible.”

“People are hungry for traditional lofts that came into vogue originally,” says Gundlach.

Think exposed duct work, exposed brick and exposed plaster on the walls. Pairs of windows will run the full length of the building. “We might not be able to reuse the floors, but I haven’t given up on that yet,” says Mesich.

Photo by Kelly Carter.

As raw as the space might look, it’s technology will be state-of-the-art: the building will be smart-tech enabled. Owners will be able to open the garage and lobby doors and control their thermostats from an app on their phones.

The Paper Lofts are high tech, old-school industrial—and embrace Pittsburgh’s steep topography.

“A really unique, Pittsburgh aspect to this building is that it steps up the hill.” The first floor is smaller than the second, the second is smaller than the third. Then the upper three floors are the same size.

“We make terraces on the lower floors, so that you can walk outside to the hillside that continues into the trees,” says Mesich.

There are three types of outdoor areas that are all oversized and private: terraces up to 350 square feet, balconies and a rooftop deck.

“These are huge spaces with a view that can’t be purchased anywhere else,” says Gundlach. “You can see probably five neighborhoods on the East End.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in August.

Lauri Gravina

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore her hometown.