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PA Helps Heinz Hall Makover

All the great "character" that comes with Heinz Hall being an 87-year-old building originally built as a cinema, has also led to some problems functioning as a modern-day theater, but Tuesday the state awarded $1.5 million to help with some renovations.

“You cannot walk from the backstage area to the front of the house if you are in anyway at all incapacitated, and so if you cannot go up and down steps you really literally have to go out through the parking garage, and come into the lobby area,” said James Wilkinson, CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

The grant will be used to fix the problem by renovating the elevator to go down another floor. Another change will include the instillation of an additional Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved restrooms on the second floor.

“While we have been very successful in the auditorium, we continue to develop and re-develop both the front of the house as well as backstage, and this is part of that process to make the hall be as functional as it constantly can be,” said Wilkinson.

Many older Pittsburghers might remember Heinz Hall as the Loew’s Penn movie theater. It still has some of the same inaccessible characteristics that used to be a part of the cinema before it opened as Heinz Hall in 1971.

The work being done through the grant is part of a larger $3.7 million project that also includes the redesigning of Heinz Hall’s Grand Tier Lounge which will be completely redesigned. Work is set to begin sometime in the next two years. 

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.
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