Tag: Architecture

  • Lithuanian Hall

    A building whose design brings a little bit of the Baltics to the South Side. The decorated pediment is unusual or unique here, but would be right at home in Vilnius. The original symmetry is undone by additions on the right-hand side, but this is still a valuable monument of ethnic Pittsburgh that ought to be preserved.

    The faded decoration over the main entrance seems to be a stylized version of the arms of Lithuania, but old Pa Pitt would be delighted to be corrected.

    An update: In spite of what old Pa Pitt took as its Baltic appearance, this was built as a German Turnhalle, or athletic club: the Birmingham Turnverein. The arms of Lithuania (if that is what the faded emblem is) and perhaps the decorations in the pediment would have been added by the later owners. This is yet another example of the Nordic flight that happened as the East Europeans settled on the South Side: one after another, churches and institutions that had been built by Western Europeans passed into the hands of East European immigrants.

  • The Iroquois

    The Iroquois Building

    The Iroquois Building, which takes up a whole block of Forbes Avenue, was designed by Frederick Osterling, Pittsburgh’s most consistently flamboyant architect. Osterling designed in a variety of styles: he had his own ornate version of Richardsonian Romanesque, and his last large commission was the Flemish-Gothic Union Trust Building. Here, as in the Arrott Building downtown, he adapts Beaux-Arts classicism to his own flashier sensibilities. The building was finished in 1903.

    This clock sits in front of the central light well—a typically ornate Osterling detail.

    A naked brick front would never do for Osterling; it must be constantly varied in shape and texture. These grotesque reliefs help.

  • Second Empire

    Second Empire storefronts on Carson Street

    The Second Empire style is named after the Second French Empire of Napoleon III. Its most obvious characteristic is the mansard roof with dormers, which supposedly arose in France because, in buildings that were taxed by their interior space, attics were not taxed, and the space under the roof counted as an attic no matter how accommodating it was. The building here at the corner of Carson and 18th Streets is a splendid example of the Pittsburgh implementation of the style.

  • South Side Presbyterian Church

    South Side Presbyterian Church

    This church at the corner of Sarah and 20th Streets is a good example of a curious phenomenon in old city churches: the sanctuary is on the second floor, with the first floor devoted to meeting halls, classrooms, and offices. This is a common adaptation to very small lots in very crowded neighborhoods like the South Side. Note the difference in brick color along the side wall: the front of the church, with its impressive tower, was a later addition to a more ordinary-looking Presbyterian meeting house.

  • Duquesne Brewery in Evening Light

    Duquesne Brewery

    The Duquesne Brewery mushroomed into a titanic operation after the Second World War, and then rapidly collapsed in the 1960s and was gone by the 1970s. At its peak it took up three blocks on the South Side, and of course it was famous for the largest clock in the world. This 1899 building, the center of the empire, was abandoned for some time, then taken over by artist squatters, and finally, as the Brew House, became lofts and studios. It is an architectural curiosity, added to over the course of the brewery’s history with some regard for consistent style but no regard at all for symmetry.

  • King Edward Apartments

    King Edward Apartments

    This splendid apartment block in Oakland occupies an awkward plot. The intersection is not precisely perpendicular, which means the plot is not precisely rectangular. The architect has attacked this problem by making a staggered façade along Craig Street, skillfully manipulating the ornamentation so that it appears to be more symmetrical than it is. In this picture, the ground floor—given over to retail shops—is being renovated.

  • D’Arlington Apartments, Oakland

    D’Arlington Apartments

    Edward Keen was the architect of this intriguing apartment building on the edge of Oakland, just where it meets Shadyside. It was built in 1910, and the style seems to old Pa Pitt to be something like Italian Renaissance fading through Prairie Style to modernism. It has the simplicity and squareness of all three styles; the details are subtle but rich (especially the cornice); and the inset balconies, with much effort put into preventing them from breaking the lines of the rectangular walls, presage the simplicity-at-all-costs of the modernists.

  • First Church of Christ, Scientist

    First Church of Christ, Scientist

    Designed by S. S. Beman, a Chicago architect who made Christian Science churches a specialty, this now belongs to the University of Pittsburgh as it slops over from Oakland into Shadyside.

  • Rodef Shalom Temple

    Rodef Shalom Temple

    One of Henry Hornbostel’s most impressive works, Rodef Shalom, built in 1906, is notable for its colored terra-cotta decorations, which—according to the interpretive sign on the temple grounds—were among the earliest uses of polychrome terra cotta in the United States.

    Find it on the map

  • Sunshine and Clouds

    Skyline of Pittsburgh from Point State Park

    Downtown Pittsburgh seen from Point State Park. From this angle, you might suppose that the city did not exist at all before the Second World War—although, if you enlarged the picture, you might wonder why there was a British colonial flag flying.