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sign of the times

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For many years, a cube embossed with a big W and a circle around it was an integral part of the Pittsburgh cityscape and a symbol of the city's industrial might. The sign sat in front of the Westinghouse building on Stanwix Street even after the once gigantic corporation was dismantled in the 1990s.

Blattner Brunner moved into the building last year and saw a chance for a little self-promotion. As part of its lease, the shop nego tiated rights to the cube outside. "It's an opportunity to continue to seed our brand. It was like putting our flat outside the building," Brunner said.

A city code does not allow new signs at street level, but the Westinghouse sign was grandfathered in, which means the Blattner Brunner sign is now a unique feature of the downtown skyline. The shop was mindful of history and altered the sign "as diplomatically as we could," Brunner said.

"The last thing we wanted to be seen doing was removing a vestige of our heritage."

Pittsburgh's mayor took part in an unveiling ceremony, but no one from Westinghouse was involved, and the original sign was removed quickly and quietly before the Blattner Brunner version went up.