Sitting On Top Of The World

Three PNC Plaza is a city living dream

Once again, Forbes magazine has crowned Pittsburgh as “America’s most livable city.” Historically known for steel production, river trade and black smoke, the Central Business District has been restored and regenerated into an area of magnificent importance. Thousands of people now call downtown home, and the seams of this convenient neighborhood are splitting with restaurants, cultural amenities, sporting venues and high-rise apartment buildings.

New on the block

The Residences at Three PNC Plaza grace the top ten floors of this remarkable, multi-use glass tower, which are stacked atop offices and a hotel. LEED® certified under the U.S. Green Building Council, the structure will be the largest environmentally-friendly, mixed-use building in the country.

For one young couple, Three PNC offered the perfect city living they were looking for. Newly married, the owners were frequent visitors of the downtown area. They often found themselves heading in to see Penguins games, the Steelers, and theater shows, so they thought, “Why not live here?” A panoramic view of the river, and having Market Square in the back yard were key motivators in the decision to drop anchor here.

The couple’s individual wants were reasonably in sync. “We both wanted big and open, with a less is more look,” says the owner. “Color was also important to us.” They worked with Randy Snell, of Archetype Design Studio on the 1,800-square-foot project. “Randy was our vision,” points out the homeowner. “We had the master plan in mind, and he gave us all the details.”

Seeing red

Red was a high priority on the owner’s want list, so Snell began by using the color on a focal structural column. Sitting dead center in the entertainment areas, he incorporated the boxy red column by wrapping it with a curved bar that he had covered in Italian glass mosaics, while a wine red, Tibetan rug, lines the Brazilian Cherry wood floors. Wanting to subtly divide the living and dining areas without blocking the view, the designer installed silver spun acrylic panels to be used as a visual separation.

A sprawling, Italian leather sectional, tempts friends and family to plunk down and watch a movie or sporting event on their 65-inch Runco Plasma television. Snell combined onyx and ebonized wenge wood to construct the one-of-a-kind coffee table.

Thanks to a bird’s-eye view into PNC Park, the couple can enjoy fireworks throughout the baseball season. “They launch them right below us,” the owner points out. “Most of them are eye level, but some don’t even reach this high.” The homeowner admits that he initially needed to adjust to the height, and would stand 3 feet back to look out. No longer an issue, he gazes out of his floor-to-ceiling windows and takes in the ever-changing urban landscape. The owner recalls a particular evening when he was having a beer with a buddy, and could see a storm in the distance. “It took about five to ten minutes to get here, and we just watched it roll in,” he remembers. “We became completely mesmerized, stopped talking and just watched it pass over us.”

Functional flow

Early on, the couple flip-flopped the living room for the dining area so that the kitchen and dining room would be a continuous space. “It was interesting, the way the dining area evolved,” explains Snell. “The owners couldn’t agree on a single style, so we blended styles into what I would refer to as rustic-contemporary.”

Tom Trzcinski, CMKBD, of Kitchen and Bath Concepts, added significant upgrades to the compact, but well-designed kitchen. The full-size, Sub-Zero wine cooler, and a Wolf range, give the condominium-sized kitchen more of a grandiose appearance.

April Spagnolo, the project designer for Kitchen and Bath Concepts says the back painted starphire glass backsplash is a standout element. “Where most glass has a green tint, this type has blue,” she says. The kitchen design also includes an elevated glass bar and Carrera marble that covers the floor.

Keeping with a colorful theme, Snell highlighted the column in a conspicuous lime green to add accent for the entire city to see. “When the blinds are open, you can literally see it from Liberty Avenue,” says the owner.

Clean, sophisticated and simple, the master bedroom is less about furniture, and all about the dazzling glass window wall. “You don’t have to worry about artwork, because the view is your art,” says the owner. “Our bedroom looks right into the Highmark Building, and it feels as if you can touch it.” Closet space was economized for storage, and drawers were built in the walk-in closet so as not to fill the bedroom with dressers. Having a bit of a shoe fetish, an area was custom-built to accommodate the owner’s collection of high heels.

With a whirlpool tub in place, and his and her sinks, the master bath gives off a spa feel. The marble floor climbs the walls of the sizable walk-in shower, and the rain showerhead was set high to accommodate the owner who stands at 6'4".

Watching the movements of the city below is a favorite pastime for the couple. “I don’t mind when the Fort Pitt Bridge is bumper to bumper, as long as I’m not in it,” laughs the owner.


Designer: Randy Snell, Archetype Design Studio LLC; Architect: Astorino; Contractor: Rycon Inc.; Flooring: Kahrs Hardwood; Kitchen and bath cabinetry: Saxton Cabinetry by Kitchen and Bath Concepts of Pittsburgh LLC; Countertops: Granite from Vangura Surfacing Products, Inc.; Kitchen backsplash: Glass backsplash from Rex Glass & Mirror Company Inc.; Bathroom sinks and faucets: Toto from Seymour’s The Furnished Bath Inc.; Kitchen appliances: Hillmon Appliance Distributors; Lighting: Tech Lighting, Hubbardton Forge, Hudson Valley Lighting; Furniture: Design Trade, Arhaus, Chiasso; Coffee table, sectional, sideboard and artwork: Perlora, Joel Rosner; Rugs: Stark, Pittsburgh Rug Company; Bar tile: Glass, Ceramiche Tile and Stone; Architectural panels: Lumicor; Audio/visual: Let’s Make Music; Bar cabinetry: Hallcraft Custom Furniture; Sales team for The Residences Sky Homes at Three PNC Plaza: Lori Hummel and Marie Louise Vaughn


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