In recent years, Pittsburgh has drawn its fair share of comparisons to Brooklyn. But don’t bring that up to Brent Young. “People keep telling me Pittsburgh is the new Brooklyn . . . it pisses me off.” Young, the restaurateur behind The Whitfield, is quoted in a new piece for WSJ. Magazine entitled “The Ace Hotel’s Latest Outpost Opens in Pittsburgh.” Beth Kracklauer looks at East Liberty’s trendy new hotel and considers how it fits into a rapidly changing neighborhood—and city.
One of the central goals of the Ace brand, Kracklauer explains, is creating spaces that mesh with the fabric of the cities around them. “No, we are not in Brooklyn,” she writes. “Pittsburgh—its architecture and singular history—is this hotel’s subject and muse.” Kracklauer points to the history of the company, which started when three friends turned a Seattle flophouse into a place for artists to gather. Today, the Ace has eight hotels everywhere from Portland to Panama City, each of which is “as much a social experiment as a place to stay.”
The Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, which opened in December in a former YMCA, is the latest addition to the rapidly developing neighborhood of East Liberty. Kracklauer outlines a brief history of Pittsburgh’s “second downtown,” which has seen wild ups and downs over the past century. And with a Google office and Carnegie Mellon University nearby, as well as “a growing crop of local galleries, microbreweries and other creative incubators,” East Liberty is in the throes of massive change once again.
The new Ace Hotel Pittsburgh works to be an active part of that evolving neighborhood, incorporating local people and businesses at every turn. From a stairwell exhibition of the work of celebrated Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris to furniture by local workshop Bones and All, the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh is more than a few nicely appointed rooms. Says Kracklauer, “A real sense of Pittsburgh—of any city where an Ace Hotel sets up shop—is what this team aims to distill and deliver.”