Local Artists and Building History in Hotel Development

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TRYP by Wyndham, Wyndham Hotel Group’s urban lifestyle brand, will makes its debut in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood in early 2019. The 108 room hotel will take up residence in the former Washington Education Center, a historic trade school building.  The hotel developer, the Century Group, in partnership Aaron Henderson and Casey Droege Cultural Productions (CDCP), has developed an arts and culture initiative for the property that showcases the building’s rich history through storytelling and works from local artists and makers.

The Century Group is a hospitality development company which owns and operates nine hotels across West VirginiaPennsylvania, and Ohio, including several Wyndham Hotel Group brands. Century Group Principal, Josh Aderholt, is at the helm of the developing arts and culture initiatives for the TRYP Pittsburgh | Lawrenceville property.

“We aspire to embody what is so engaging about Lawrenceville—its combination of history, tradition and innovation. The building itself obviously is a historic edifice. For the art pieces in the project, we wanted to both bring  in the contemporary energy that is driving Lawrenceville today, and to move beyond the history of the physical structure and get at the stories and culture of the space,” says Aderholt. “As a long-time resident of Lawrenceville, it’s important to me and other stakeholders that the hotel not only become a place for visitors to stay while they enjoy the neighborhood, but also that we showcase the talented people that live and work here.”

Aderholt’s vision combines a unique storytelling initiative in partnership with video production artist and Assistant Professor in the Studio Arts Department at the University of PittsburghAaron Henderson, and building history-themed installations of local art in partnership with Casey Droege Cultural Productions (CDCP).

Aaron Henderson brings the history of the building to life with WASHINGTON. Former students and educators of the Washington Education Center come together for audio and video recordings to archive their experience within the school. Guests can access these personal accounts in three ways: via video installations in the lobby, a web component offering guests an opportunity to virtually tour the hotel via audio and video components that connect existing spaces with historical images, interviews and videos, and a telephone component allowing guests to dial in from their room and connect to a story collected from one of the many interviews.

“Washington Number One, Washington Elementary School, Washington Trade School and Washington Polytec Academy are some of the names of schools that have stood on the grounds of the current Washington Education Center. For almost 150 years it accommodated students and teachers, shaping the experiences and opportunities of thousands of Pittsburghers that walked through its doors,” states Henderson. “As it transforms again, we begin work on WASHINGTON, a project that explores the history of the building through the experiences that happened within its walls. We do this by reaching out to students, teachers, administrators and any others that were connected to any iteration of this historic building and conducting interviews about their experiences.”

Henderson will also be collecting personal images from these individuals and from the archives of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. These interviews and other media will be archived, edited, and used as the raw material for a variety of public multimedia installations and experiences throughout the property.

Casey Droege Cultural Productions (CDCP) partnered with TRYP Pittsburgh | Lawrenceville by coordinating a closed submission process to commission custom art installations for the property. Artists were selected in May 2018 and will create works in media that parallel the trades that were once taught in the building such as  woodworking, print/ drafting, and metalworking. Works by local artists will also be featured in every detail of the hotel, from the lobby chandelier to artwork in the guest rooms to custom crockery in the hotel’s two restaurants.

CDCP is an organization that focuses growing Pittsburgh’s art economy through exhibitions, public programming, and consulting services. For businesses and developers looking to acquire or commission artworks, CDCP sources the appropriate pieces while using primarily our regional talent. Through this process, the organization helps to create a thriving arts community and sustainable ecosystem for artists in the Pittsburgh area. CDCP is led by its Founder and Executive Director, Casey Droege.

“This is an incredible opportunity for individual artists to not only show their work, but to have a hand in shaping the feel of the hotel through larger installations throughout the building,” says Ms. Droege. “We’re thrilled that a project of this size is willing to connect with the creative community in such a meaningful way.”

Selected local artists include Sarika GoulatiaHenry J. Simonds, Temper and Grit, Ed ParrishJakob Marsico, and Atiya JonesAdditional artists and makers are still being added to the project.

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