The Renshaw Building at Liberty Avenue and Ninth Street was built in 1910, with an extra floor added to the top at some time in the modernistic era. It’s a perfect miniature skyscraper, with base, shaft, cap, and the outlined bosses’ floor above the main floor. There are some good terra-cotta decorations, especially around the Ninth Street entrance.
Two Sides of Charles Bickel
Charles Bickel was one of our most prolific architects of medium-sized commercial buildings. He was versatile and adaptable, as we see here in two buildings of very similar dimensions and very different styles, built within two years of each other. Above, the Maginn Building, from 1897, in a very Richardsonian Romanesque idiom; it is currently being converted into—who would have guessed?—luxury loft apartments. Below, from 1895, the United Presbyterian Board of Publications Building, in a pure Beaux-Arts classical style.
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.
Hartley Rose Building
Built for the Hartley-Rose Belting Company (so old Pa Pitt has no idea why the name on the awning lacks a hyphen, but he has no control over that), this is in effect a miniature Beaux-Arts skyscraper, with the regulation base–shaft–cap design. The architect was Edward Stotz, many of whose most famous commissions were schools—notably Schenley High School and Fifth Avenue High School.
Victory Building (in Better Light)
Forbes Avenue Side of the Frick Building
Louis Sullivan was of the opinion that Daniel Burnham’s success in the classical style was a great blow to American architecture. But what could be more American than a Burnham skyscraper? Like America, it melds its Old World influences into an entirely new form, in its way as harmonious and dignified as a Roman basilica, but without qualification distinctly American.
Forever overshadowed by its taller neighbor the Frick Building, the Allegheny Building, built in 1906, is also by Daniel Burnham, and also a Frick project. It is one of his spare, almost modernistic designs, and it is fascinating to see how well the classical vocabulary adapts to twentieth-century simplicity.
Liberty Theater (Baum Building)
Like many buildings on the southeast side of Liberty Avenue, where the two grids of our eighteenth-century street plan collide, the Baum Building is forced into a triangle. It began its life as the Liberty Theater, but it lasted for only a few years before being turned into offices. Now, under the ownership of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, it has gone back into the entertainment business as an art gallery.
The Clark Building, designed by the Hoffman-Henon Co of Philadelphia, was built in 1927 at the same time as the Stanley Theater by the same architects. This late-Beaux-Arts skyscraper has for a long time been the center of the jewelry district downtown, with at least a dozen jewelers in the building (“over thirteen,” a sign on the building says, meaning, what, fourteen?) and more within a block or so.