Academy Avenue in Mount Lebanon, just off the Uptown business district, is a street of small to medium-sized apartment buildings, giving way to single-family houses as the street gets farther from Washington Road.
Apartment Buildings on Academy Avenue, Mount Lebanon
Decorations on the King Edward Apartments
The King Edward Apartments are actually two buildings—a larger one at the corner of Craig and Bayard Streets, and a smaller one behind it on Bayard Street. Both of them have some interesting ornamental features.
Emerald Apartments, Beechview
Old Pa Pitt’s obsession with small apartment buildings continues. This one is on Broadway in Beechview. It seems to have been originally meant as an imitation of a Georgian mansion of the sort found in Annapolis or Williamsburg. It looks as though smaller windows have been installed, and the semicircle of bricks at the top of the central stairs might have been a “Palladian” window. In spite of alterations and repairs, though, it remains a pleasing and distinctive building.
King Edward Apartments, Oakland
This is a huge composite picture, so don’t click on it unless you have the megabytes to spare. This elegant apartment building on Craig Street had a typically Pittsburgh problem to solve. The lot is irregularly shaped and (of course) not level. The architect’s answer was a façade that is varied enough to mask the fact that it does not quite line up with the street. At first glance, the front seems symmetrical; the second and third glances will reveal the curious staggering of the wall.
Craftsman-Modernist Apartment Building, Mount Lebanon
Well, this one didn’t quite work.
Old Pa Pitt has mentioned how he enjoys seeing the experiments builders try with small apartment buildings. Here we see a builder who seems to have absorbed some of the ideas of modernism and added some Craftsman-style details: the three-over-one windows, the decorative brickwork, the wood-framed entrance. But the details seem applied at random, and a modernist architect would have been more regular in the geometry. Note the lack of rhythm or alignment in the windows, which throws off the whole façade. The second and third floors have windows in groups of 2, 1, 3, 2; the first floor has groups of 2, 1, 2, 1, and they do not line up at all with the windows above them. The entrance does not line up vertically or horizontally with anything else in the building; its awkward corner placement seems to leave some of the trim hanging off the edge.
Someone will probably come along and tell Father Pitt that this building is by a famous modernist architect, and old Pa Pitt will only say that the architect was having a bad day.
Georgian Meets Spanish Mission
You have probably never heard anyone say this before, but Father Pitt is fascinated by small apartment buildings. Larger apartment blocks are often designed by famous architects, and they may be masterpieces of their kind. But small apartment buildings sometimes preserve the adventurous whimsies of a builder who was not technically an architect but could draw a blueprint all by himself.
Here is a good example. The third floor of this little apartment building in Mount Lebanon is typical of the Spanish Mission style that was very popular in the near South Hills in the first half of the twentieth century. But below that the details are Georgian. It would be hard to imagine a stranger clash than those two styles—and yet they work well together. Pedestrians walking by never say, “Now there is an outrageously mixed metaphor of a building.” A big-deal architect would probably never do it, but it works.
The Berkshire, Mount Lebanon
A typical courtyard apartment building in a corner of Mount Lebanon that is full of small to medium-sized apartment buildings. This one is in a simple but attractive Jacobean style, where a few effective details carry all the thematic weight.
A Polychrome Balcony
Colorful paint adds a bit of whimsy to a small apartment building in Shadyside.
The Admiral Apartments, Shadyside
A simple modernist brick box is given an Art Deco flair by distinctively patterned brickwork.
Art Nouveau Apartment Building in Shadyside
This would be a fairly ordinary building, in what we might perhaps call Renaissance style, except for its curious Art Nouveau ornamentation.