Category: Downtown

  • Three and Two Gateway Center

  • Steel Plaza Subway Station

    Steel Plaza

    Steel Plaza was designed in the 1980s, and its architecture is an interesting combination of Brutalist and Postmodern styles—the two most prominent materials are raw concrete and polished granite. It was built as a junction station, where the main subway line met the spur to Penn Station, which is not in regular service these days. In the picture below, the main line is on the left, and the spur is on the right.

    Middle platform
    Looking across the main line
    A wider view
    Outbound platform from inbound platform
  • Bridge of Sighs

    Bridge of Sighs with bus

    The Bridge of Sighs connected the Allegheny County Courthouse with the jail across Ross Street. Now it connects the bureaucracy in the courthouse with more bureaucracy in the repurposed jail building, so that the name is just as appropriate. In the picture above, for a bit of a change of pace, old Pa Pitt gives you a bus driving away from you, which gives us a good sense of scale.

    Bridge of Sighs from the other side
    From a little farther away
  • Wood Street Building (300 Sixth Avenue Building)

    Wood Street Building

    A Daniel Burnham design built for the McCreery & Company department store, this building opened in 1904. It originally had a classical base with a pair of arched entrances on Wood Street, but beginning in 1939 it had various alterations, so that nothing remains of the original Burnham design below the fourth floor. This was one of Burnham’s more minimalistic designs; in it we see how thin the wall can be between classicism and modernism.

    Below, an abstract composition with elements of this building reflected in Two PNC Plaza across the street.

    Reflections
  • Top of the Benedum-Trees Building

    Top of the Benedum-Trees Building

    The ornate cap of the Benedum-Trees Building, with the PPG Place Christmas tree poking its head into the picture. Enlarge the images to appreciate the wealth of carved detail.

    Benedum-Trees Building
  • United Steelworkers Building (IBM Building)

    United Steelworkers Building

    The diamond grid is not an ornamental facing: it holds up the building, along with a central core. “Diagrid construction” is a little more common today, but still fairly unusual; perhaps the most famous or notorious example of it is the Gherkin in London. This was a very early example. It was finished in 1964, and although it was originally built for IBM, it fits its current owner very well: its steel grid is a good demonstration of what steelworkers are capable of. The architects were the New Orleans firm of Curtis and Davis.

    Formerly the IBM Building
  • One Oliver Plaza

    This is not Father Pitt’s favorite building downtown, but it was one of the last works of a distinguished modern architect: William Lescaze, who died in 1969, the year after One Oliver Plaza was built. The building has had several names since then; it now goes by the name K&L Gates Center. Old Pa Pitt’s friend Dr. Boli has remarked that the names at the tops of the skyscrapers are a good index of who is most ruthlessly exploiting the masses at the moment. K&L Gates is a gigantic law firm.

  • Art Deco Christmas in the Koppers Building

    Christmas tree in the Koppers Building lobby

    The lobby of the Koppers Building is one of our richest Art Deco interiors, and here it is decorated for Christmas.

    Clock
    Lobby
    Window
    Balconies
  • Allegheny County Courthouse and Frick Building

    Courthouse and Frick Building

    Taken on film in 1999. Note the bus coming toward you; apparently old Pa Pitt has been taking bus-coming-toward-you pictures for at least twenty-three years.

  • Maginn Building

    Maginn Building

    The Maginn Building was put up in 1891, just three years after H. H. Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse opened. Even before the courthouse was finished, it had already created a mania for the “Richardsonian Romanesque” style in Pittsburgh, and the versatile Charles Bickel was happy to come through for any client who wanted an impressively Romanesque building.

    Foliage
    Decoration
    Top of the building
    From Seventh Avenue