What does it take to run one of Pittsburgh’s most prominent architecture firms? Find out this week as Dennis Astorino—CEO & Senior Principal of DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design—juggles a variety of projects for the Steelers, PNC, Highmark and even the Governor’s Mansion. A practicing architect for 30-plus years, Dennis helped to build the internationally acclaimed firm Astorino, and then founded DLA+ in 2008. A resident of Upper St. Clair, Dennis grew up in Brookline.
“Pittsburgh has a great tradition of architects doing incredible buildings over the history of our city,” says Dennis. “One of the unique things that makes Pittsburgh and its skyline standout is that is the fact that it’s bounded by rivers, the topography, and we have our tallest building at the highest point in the city, so it gives our skyline a very condensed feel that most cities don’t have; it’s not spread out. In a lot of ways, the skyline is magical.”
Monday, June 20
My mornings begin in a similar fashion every day: up at 5:30 and I read both local papers—the Post-Gazette and the Trib, and The Wall Street Journal.
Today’s first meeting is with the firm’s principals to address status and deadlines. We’ll talk about projects ranging from the Steelers training facility and PNC Park, to work for Giant Eagle/GetGo and Penn State.
Since our firm does so much work in the sports industry, sports is always a hot topic in our office. This means we’ll be recapping this past weekend’s U.S. Open at Oakmont, since one of our other principals and I were both lucky to attend. After just being there, I can’t help but discuss the great course and the great spotlight it puts on our city.
Next, I have a meeting with Diana Bucco of The Buhl Foundation for lunch. We may go to Poros (our firm completed the interior design for the space). We’ll talk about her upcoming transition to President of the Foundation and Point Park University Board business. At some point, our talk will turn to Italy. Her parents are from Italy and we have a mutual love for the country.
The work day ends with a meeting with our marketing and web teams. We are working with local Pittsburgh firm, Wall-to-Wall Studios, on the DLA+ company website. Since we’re meeting on the North Side, we will check progress on the new sculpture we’re working on with the Steelers to be installed near Stage AE. It includes part of the old Manchester Bridge that connected the Point and North Shore.
I’ll take my team to one of my favorite spots on this part of town: Gus & Yaya’s for ice balls (and maybe some peanuts too). They are a Pittsburgh institution and I remember going there as a kid.
Tuesday, June 21
Today I will review submissions for the upcoming Art Commission meeting, which vary from signage packages to art murals to memorials along the rivers. I’ve been on the Commission for 10 years, and I love to see all the new initiatives and changes in the city over the past decade.
Then it is off to the South Side for our weekly meeting at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex with the Steelers. We’re pushing to complete the project prior to the team’s return from training camp. We will do a walkthrough of the work happening in the weight room, front lobby and front addition. The work is coming along great.
Later this evening, I’ll take advantage of some extra time at home to spend in my studio. I’ve been working on a series of four paintings for my grandson.
Wednesday, June 22
I’ll leave straight from home for Harrisburg to attend the Governor’s Residence Committee meeting. We’ll talk about wheelchair accessible bathroom upgrades and discuss a collaboration with the Penn State architecture program. This meeting typically lasts a few hours and we will make decisions regarding upgrades to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Mansion.
Thursday, June 23
Since I have a meeting in the Strip District, I will begin my day at one of my favorite and most treasured spots in Pittsburgh, La Prima Espresso Bar. I’ve been coming here for 25 years and I can always find the same crew at their front table playing cards. It is a special part of Pittsburgh.
After I enjoy my espresso, I’ll head to a second walkthrough of a potential new 25,000-square-foot space for a client who may move its headquarters to this part of town. It’s an exciting project but too confidential to discuss yet! For lunch, I’ll head to Penn Avenue Fish Company, a place I frequent when in the Strip.
Friday, June 24
I’m downtown bright and early for a walkthrough at The Residences at 3 PNC. We are here to look at one of the remaining available condos for a new project. The potential client requires a complete interior fit-out of the space, as this unit is just metal studs right now. We love working in here and have designed four units in the building. And it has great views of Pittsburgh!
Next I’m off to lunch at Scoglio in Green Tree with landscape architect Dina Klavon of Klavon Design Associates to discuss the landscape plan for a private residence under construction in Upper St. Clair.
Saturday, June 25
My wife and I are making a quick trip to visit our daughter, so although we had planned dinner with friends at Wild Rosemary, we’ll definitely reschedule a visit to this neighborhood gem in Upper St. Clair.
Sunday, June 26