Tag: Construction

  • FNB Financial Center

    FNB Financial Center tower nearing completion

    It’s getting close to done—our fifteenth-tallest skyscraper, if old Pa Pitt’s calculations are right, and the first really big one built outside downtown since the Cathedral of Learning. When the Lower Hill was demolished to get all those poor people out of sight of the executives downtown, the promise was that it would be replaced with a gargantuan cultural and commercial center that would make Pittsburgh proud. Instead it became mostly arid wasteland. This complex, of which the tower is the most visible manifestation, is promoting itself as finally delivering on those promises made all those decades ago, with “next-level social impact” and everything. Since we waited this long, we came out of the era of arid and uninspired International Style architecture, went straight through the era of Postmodernism, and landed smack in the middle of the Arid and Uninspired International Style Revival. The design came from Gensler, the world’s largest architecture factory.

  • Adding Five Stories to an Eight-Story Office Building in Pittsburgh

    We’ve mentioned before that the Jones & Laughlin Headquarters Building was expanded upward by five floors almost a decade after it was built. It seems that the expansion was planned and provided for from the beginning, which explains how the architects, MacClure & Spahr, managed it so neatly. The Engineering News for January 18, 1917, gives us the technical details of how it was done, and includes a picture of the back of the building with the construction in progress.

    Adding Five Stories to an Eight-Story Office Building in Pittsburgh

    An extension of five stories—planned at the time the structure was erected to its original height of eight stories—has just been added to the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. office building in Pittsburgh. In the original construction the floorbeams of the ninth floor had been put in place and used to support a temporary roof, and the columns had been provided with splices to take the future extensions. When the addition was begun, holes were cut through the roof to enter the columns, and then these holes were housed around to keep out the rain. A stiffleg derrick hoisted the steel and then erected it.

    To give access to the portion of the floor lying between the stifflegs, the loads were temporarily landed at the extreme swing of the boom. The boom was then passed back of a disconnected stiffleg and proceeded with the erection after the stiffleg had been replaced.

    The old roof was wrecked as soon as the tenth-floor slabs and the new side walls of the ninth floor were in place. The floor was maintained in a fairly water-tight condition. It had originally been intended to require that the new roof be placed before the old was removed.

    All materials other than steelwork, including concrete and débris from the old roof and cornice, were handled in the construction elevator at the rear of the building. Floors were built on the Witherow system, with removable steel centers on which were cast a beam-and-slab floor framing into the steel floorbeams.

    McClure & Spahr were the architects, and James L. Stuart was the contractor.

    So MacClure & Spahr had to design a building that would look finished at two different heights, which they managed with elegance and finesse. It is now the John P. Robin Civic Building, and the exterior is almost perfectly preserved.

  • Construction Site at Sunset

    A new apartment block is going up at the SouthSide Works.

  • Central Oakland

    Central Oakland

    The cluttered landscape of the central Oakland medical-intellectual district.


    Something is always under construction.

    Back streets

    Rowhouses huddle in the shadow of the university.

    Wide view
  • UPMC Mercy Pavilion Under Construction

    Just a few blocks away from our first Eye and Ear Hospital, Mercy Hospital is building a “Pavilion” that will specialize in eye patients. Here we see it from across the Mon.

  • Win Some, Lose Some

    When he published his recent pictures of the Craig Street automotive row, old Pa Pitt promised his readers pictures of some of the other nearby buildings from the early days of the automobile. Yesterday he walked over to Melwood Avenue to get pictures of the old Chevrolet dealer and found that he hadn’t walked fast enough, because this is what it looks like now:

    Construction site

    Yes, it has been demolished for another apartment tower. Doubtless this will bring rolling waves of prosperity, though not everyone in the neighborhood is happy about it:

    Graffito: Yuppies get out

    On the bright side, the demolition revealed an old painted sign that probably had not been visible for more than a hundred years:

    Ghost sign

    Father Pitt has not been able to read the names of the two superimposed companies. This wall had been obscured by the Chevrolet dealer since before 1923, so this sign dates from the first decades of the automobile.

  • Making Lemonade on the South Side

    “When life hands you lemons,” as the old saying goes, and here is an example of someone making pretty good lemonade out of some very unpromising lemons.

    Three years ago the old St. Adalbert’s Auditorium looked like this.

    Decaying St. Adalbert’s Auditorium

    Obviously it had been abandoned, and desultory attempts at maintenance had ground to a halt. This in spite of the fact that the church right next door was still active, and indeed still is today.

    A different angle

    But now the same developer who converted St. Casimir’s to condominiums has taken this building in hand, turning it into fairly expensive condominiums under the name “The Auditorium.”

    The Auditorium

    A sign in front tells us that nine out of fourteen units have already been sold. Considering that the building was a gymnasium, auditorium, and fallout shelter built in the most undistinguished modernist style, this is a very good outcome for a building that had been a festering eyesore in the neighborhood.

  • Working on the Spire of Heinz Chapel

  • Under the Asphalt

    Carson Street shaved with streetcar tracks showing

    Scratch any major street and you’ll find streetcar tracks, as we see here on Carson Street on the South Side, currently under construction.

  • Working on the Roof of Heinz Chapel

    Workers on the roof of Heinz Chapel

    It’s easy to forget how tall Heinz Chapel is until we see people working on the roof.

    Heinz Chapel with roof work