The once-abandoned Duquesne Brewing Company building on South Side hasn’t produced beer since 1972. But art has been on tap there since the 1990s.
“The Brew House got started (with) artists who were living and working in the building,” said Tim Kaulen, president of the Brew House Association, a non-profit organization that has repurposed the old factory into space for local artists.
This year the association is trying to upgrade the building and update the space so more artists can take advantage of the building.
Mr. Kaulen, along with the rest of the board, has spearheaded the initiative to make the building more livable and to make the other portions of the building into work spaces or possibly into commercial rooms for rent.
“Our number one goal is that a part of the building is designated to serve local artists and to bring in guest artists in a safe and meaningful way,” said Mr. Kaulen.
The Brew House reached out to Rick Belloli, principal at Civic Square LLC, to try to find developers who share in their vision for the building.
“They’ve talked amongst themselves for years trying to figure out how to advance this project without displacing the artists and everything else along the way,” said Mr. Belloli.
Built in 1899, the factory has seen better days. In 2009, some of the living spaces were shut down because the building wasn’t up to code. Despite a few efforts to renovate the space, Brew House officials said they knew it was time for a serious overhaul.
“If it weren’t for the growing needs of the building, we wouldn’t be in this mode of partnership,” said Mr. Kaulen. “But since the needs of the building are so much greater than a single arts organization can care for, we recognize the real-world effects and it’s our way to create a sustainable plan for the future.”
As negotiations continue for finding the right developer, the Brew House also reached out to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Urban Studio Project to get some interior design ideas.
At an event held on September 13, the students showcased their visions of what they think the Brew House can be.
Lisa Whitney, professor of the class, said the association may be looking for something bigger than what the project was offering, but it still provided great experience to the students.
“We have had classes where they were literally competing and then, if it’s a company, they’ll make a short list and they’ll interview them and pick one of them for a job or to work with,” said Ms. Whitney.
It is possible elements from each proposal will be in the finalized renovation of the building, Mr. Kaulen said. He is looking for much more than just fresh paint and new carpet.
“The hope is, with the renovation of the building, the Brew House will be more in control of its future and be able to do it in a guaranteed, legal, safe environment,” he said.