Forget everything you thought you knew about Pittsburgh. It has built a reputation as a green, innovative city where the scenic views include the twinkling lights of drone researchers, rather than smokestacks. Gone are the steel mills and, thanks to home-grown talent coming out of University of Pittsburgh, Indiana University and Carnegie Mellon University, along with 66 other public and private institutions, the city is now home to Google, Apple, Uber and Facebook offices working on everything from robotics to self-driving cars.
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) averages 414 flights per day to 74 destinations and is breaking ground on a $1.1 billion modernization that will actually shrink the size of the terminals, making it easier to navigate and opening up space for improved security and parking.
Meet and Sleep
David L. Lawrence Convention Center features 1.5 million sq. ft. of LEED Platinum-certified meeting and exhibit space with sweeping river views and 1,300 sq. ft. of outdoor gardens that grow ingredients for the hyper-locally sourced catering menu. This modern facility is steps from The Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh and its 38,464 sq. ft. of event space and 616 guest rooms.
The city’s newest convention hotel, AC Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown offers access to Market Square and the Cultural District and almost 3,000 sq. ft. of event space, along with 134 guest rooms. Nearby, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is a pop of color in a 1903 Beaux Arts-style building with more than 11,300 sq. ft. of event space, including a two-story ballroom and rooftop suite for view-infused VIP gatherings.
Nearby, Omni William Penn Hotel boasts 52,000 sq. ft. of meeting space in an elegant, historic building with a basement speakeasy lounge. For something completely different, Drury Plaza Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown is the spot if you want to plan a meeting in an old bank vault. The art deco building was The Federal Reserve Bank of Pittsburgh and now takes deposits on more than 200 guest rooms and 10,000 sq. ft. of event space.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Pittsburgh without a Primanti Bros. sandwich stuffed full of meat, coleslaw and French fries, but the culinary scene has evolved from the days when truck drivers needed something they could hold in one hand as they made their way from the Strip District (no, not that kind of district—it just refers to the strip of land where the warehouses fronted the river). Whether your group opts for a ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour or navigates its own way through Zagat’s 2015 No. 1 Food City in the United States, you will find James Beard-nominated chefs and creative takes on the diverse ethnic cuisine residents have been cooking for generations. Check out Smallman Galley, a 200-seat food hall that allows multiple chefs to test their inventive culinary concepts.
The city’s lounges have also come a long way since it played a pivotal role in 1794’s Whiskey Rebellion. And the libations in that boilermaker aka “a shot and a beer” are probably craft brews from one of the 30 members of Pittsburgh Brewers Guild.
Pittsburgh is still a sports town. New residents are issued a yellow Terrible Towel to cheer on the beloved Steelers at Heinz Field stadium. Across the river, PPG Paints Arena is home to the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins. Both are creative, only-in-Pittsburgh meeting and event locations.
Another claim to fame for this diverse city is memorialized in Andy Warhol Museum, where the King of Pop Art’s evolution fills seven floors.
When it comes to event technology, event tech correspondent Brandt Krueger takes the approach of getting the exact right tool for the job, rather than the one “that’ll do.” Here’s his event tech checklist, which may be a little different than you’d expect.