Delicious Design

Design Pittsburgh Submissions Highlight Eateries and Breweries

By Maya Henry Posted on October 10, 2017

Interior of BRGR Downtown Pittsburgh at 535 Liberty Avenue.  Photo by Candidly Yours Photography

With James Beard award nominations growing each year and a solid standing on Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants list several years in a row, there is no doubt Pittsburgh’s food scene has greatly improved over the last decade.  This has meant more opportunities for architects to leave their mark on Pittsburgh’s food renaissance.  Restaurant (and brewery) design is not simple.  This year’s Design Pittsburgh submissions show us how important good design can be for a restaurant.  To see this year’s exhibit and vote for your favorite entry click here.

American Natural Harmar Energy Centre

Address: 2 Rich Hill Road, Cheswick, PA 15024
Client: Cleopatra Resources, LLC
Architecture Firm: DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design
Contractor: Bolger Brothers, Inc.
Engineers: Loftus Engineers; Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.
Photographer: Denmarsh Photography

American Natural focuses on the local communities it serves through its commitment to providing access to cleaner, more economic fuel and healthier food suited to today’s consumer. The goal was to incorporate this into the design of a retail/convenience store and fuel station that would serve as the brand’s pro-type.


Address: 2 PPG Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
 Big Y Restaurant Group
Architecture Firm: DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design
Contractor: A. Martini & Co.
Engineers: Pedicone Engineering Consultants; Schneider Engineering; Beck Consulting, LLC
Photographer: Denmarsh Photography

Big Y Group tapped DLA+ to design the space as it opened its sixth restaurant; the location is the ground floor of Two PPG Place. The concept is a high-end Mediterranean Restaurant, which incorporates the following design concepts; a large bar with strong visual curb appeal, open kitchen, operable doors and windows that connect to the square and open to a large sidewalk dining area.

Superior Motors

Address: 1211 Braddock Ave, Braddock, PA 15104
 Kevin Sousa
Architecture Firm: Studio for Spatial Practice
Contractor: Absolute Win
Engineers: BDA Engineering, Inc.; Herron Engineering; Suhrie Engineering, LLC
Photographer: Studio for Spatial Practice

Transforming a vacant Braddock car dealership into a destination restaurant was a design challenge in many respects. We preserved the raw industrial nature of the space, preserving and reinterpreting materials native to the site (concrete, brick, and steel) while introducing new elements (wood glass, fiberglass and fire) in a way that celebrates their raw materiality – similar to the way that Chef Kevin Sousa honors his ingredients.

The restaurant is intended to be experienced as a living part of Braddock, inspired by its people, history, and perseverance, and reinterpreted through architecture and cuisine. The spaces were designed to encourage patrons to linger and savor the food and ambiance, and the centerpiece is the live-fire hardwood grill, creating a focal point and transition between the bar and the open kitchen. Through large glass windows facing onto Braddock Avenue, patrons can observe steel mill operations and the living-flame spectacle of impurities burning away several stories up in the sky.

Superior Motors breathes new life into a long-vacant Braddock storefront. It is part of a larger “eco-system” of projects and initiatives that together will have a greater impact on the local community, providing amenities, jobs and training opportunities. The restaurant’s design is understated from the outside, expressing the building’s new identity through cedar shading devices that frame the windows on Braddock Avenue. The restaurant interior is intended to be like Braddock itself: perhaps initially surprising but thoroughly approachable, inviting and amazing.

First Course

Address: 7800 Susquehanna St, Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Architecture Firm: Urban Design Build Studio
Contractor: PROJECT RE_, Trade Institute of Pittsburgh Apprentice Training Program
Photographer: Urban Design Build Studio

FIRST COURSE is a mobile, adaptable, coffee kiosk built from waste material that has provided a low-barrier opportunity for entrepreneurship. It is composed of a fleet of modular, pre-fabricated carts, each with a specific function, that aggregate to form a complete cafe kiosk. It is operating in a previously under-utilized warehouse lobby, providing access to food and coffee for the building’s population.

Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream

Address: 232 S Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Client: Millie’s Homemade, LLC
Architecture Firm: DeNinno Architects, LLC
Contractor: Facility Support Services, LLC; Linkrist Construction, Inc.
Engineers: Iams Consulting, LLC; Adam Millron Studio
Photographer: Adam Milliron Studio

The project was particularly challenging because the raw space was small and awkward. The intent was to maintain the openness of the space and focus the attention on the serving counter and servers.  The materials are sparse, clean and bright. The intended experience is to invite people into the store and make them feel welcomed to buy ice cream and leave happy. Ice Cream = Happy.

Grit & Grace*

Client: S+P Group
Architecture Firm: Fukui Architects
Contractor: Joseph R. Wagner Group
Photographer: Third Shift Photography

With a modest budget, this project underwent a major interior transformation, including an outdoor cafe seating area. Planters were used as a barrier from bust Liberty Avenue and the new storefront blurs the line between interior and exterior with a pair of full height folding glass doors. The existing interior is narrow and long, which presented an interesting challenge. The floor plan prioritized the aisle sizes since the restaurant concept was heavily based around rolling carts delivering food. Vertical curving slats bring an organic rhythm to the space, while supporting a natural wood slab drink rail. A system of meandering slats are the focal point of the restaurant, connecting each space to one another, reinforcing intimacy, defining areas of activity and supporting the connected communal feel.

*Grit & Grace is no longer in business.

Southern Tier Brewing Company, Pittsburgh

Address: 316 N Shore Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
 Southern Tier Brewing Company
Architecture Firm: Fukui Architects
Contractor: Landau Building Company
Engineers: Loftus Engineers, LLC
Photographer: Fukui Architects

The design problem that presented itself was how to provide adequate space for a fully functional kitchen, multiple coolers, and extensive brewing equipment while maximizing the number of seats within the limited brewpub footprint. The solution was multi-faceted: 1) building a kitchen mezzanine complete with a retracting outdoor hoist beam for brewery ingredient transportation 2) locating coolers within existing building openings so that although appearing to be part of the interior space, they were actually situated outside the building 3) working with brewing engineers reconfigure the brewing components to better fit the space configuration. We wanted the patrons to feel immersed within the life of a brewer by allowing greater insight into each aspect of the brewing process from milling and grinding to the final pour. Flanking the tables with the brewing tanks, running process piping overhead, allowing views into coolers and utilizing transparent beer lines were all design strategies to achieve the intimate experience.

Mindful Brewing

Address: 3759 Library Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15234
 Mindful Brewing Company, LLC
Architecture Firm: mossArchitects
Contractor: P2 Contracting LLC
Engineers: Tait Engineering; Schneider Engineering, LLC; WNA Engineering
Photographer: Anthony Musmanno

Mindful Brewing is the transformation of a prior automobile garage turned grocery market into a state-of-the-art restaurant and craft brewery. The design worked to create a modern and sustainable establishment while utilizing the existing structure and architectural features. The restaurant’s menu and brews revolve around local-sourcing, growing much of their produce at a local urban farm while incorporating native ingredients and products. This sustainability philosophy is carried through the design of the space with the use of dining tables crafted from salvaged wood, seating made of reclaimed polypropylene and wood fibers, Zero Zone high-efficiency bottle coolers, and LED lighting.

Union Standard

Address: 524 William Penn Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
 Downtown Arcade LLC
Architecture Firm: mossArchitects
Contractor: A. Martini & Company
Engineers: WNA Engineering, Inc.; Atlantic Engineering Services
Photographer: Anthony Musmanno

One of the inherent challenges in developing Union Standard’s design within an existing space was the layout of multiple floor levels. Due to the existing site and street slope, the building has three distinct levels that make up the ground floor. Due to the mezzanine’s very low existing ceiling, an effort was made to visually connect both levels. The design solution worked to extenuate an open and continuous flow of space from the entrance to the restaurant’s mezzanine kitchen. The design works to create an approachable, yet elegant atmosphere.

BRGR Downtown

Address: 535 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
 Stern Enterprises
Architecture Firm: NEXT Architecture
Contractor: Stern Enterprises
Photographer: Candidly Yours Photography

The intent of BRGR’s newest downtown Pittsburgh location was to keep a connection to the existing BRGR brand and create a unique restaurant experience. The team was asked to reuse elements from a previous restaurant concept and transform a long narrow space into multiple zones of seating with distinct styles. A central wood tunnel serves as a transition between the social bar to an intimate booth seating area.

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