Award #53: Doors Open Pittsburgh

If you’ve ever house hunted, you know the best part is gaining access to interior spaces which are typically inaccessible. Imagine gaining entry inside old buildings that reveal Pittsburgh’s rich history. Picture yourself standing on stage at Heinz Hall, smiling behind the Mayor’s desk for a photo opp or discovering a vault.

Earlier this summer, Awesome Pittsburgh awarded Doors Open Pittsburgh with a $1000 grant. Doors Open Pittsburgh is a free, 2-day event, which offers the unique experience of “behind-the-scenes” access into some of Pittsburgh’s iconic buildings. The grant money covers the cost of 350 volunteer t-shirts and other volunteer/event supplies. Doors Open Pittsburgh will allow curious folks to explore various theaters, private clubs, hotels, government buildings, sacred places, artist spaces, office spaces and heritage sites.

Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Lauri Fink views the rare access to iconic buildings as compelling:

“When you grow up in a place, or live somewhere long enough, you take it for granted and forget to explore. Doors Open Pittsburgh gives residents of both the city and the region a reason to explore, engage and “their city” in a way never before offered.”

Bonnie Baxter, the creative force behind the event, is a Pittsburgh native, but moved to Chicago in 2011. After attending a similar event in Chicago, she decided to bring this awesome opportunity to her hometown. She has been working feverishly on this event upon her return to Pittsburgh in 2015. As both Founder and Executive Director of Doors Open, she worked feverishly to secure partnerships with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, Architect Institute of America/Pittsburgh Chapter and The Design Center. Because the event footprint is located in downtown Pittsburgh, Bonnie thought it wise to earn local support and therefore did so–with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership , the Pittsburgh Community Development Corporation, and most recently, the Green Building Alliance.

The list of open buildings includes but is not limited to: the Mayor’s Office, The Pennsylvanian, several downtown hotels, a handful of office buildings, churches, several private clubs, Heinz Hall as well as other theaters of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Dollar Bank, various architectural firms, and BNY Mellon.


The event will be held Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9. No advance reservations or tickets are required. Simply visit the Doors Open Pittsburgh website, read a description of and select a desired site, map it out and go. Depending on the building, visitors will be offered the choice of a self-guided experience or a guided tour.