Burnham Reflected

300 Sixth Avenue, the former Wood Street Building, was designed by Daniel Burnham. The lower floors were given an Art Deco makeover in 1939, but here we see the more original upper floors in the funhouse mirror of Two PNC Plaza.

Lobby of the Frick Building

Everything in the Frick Building is gleaming white marble, with just enough accents to keep the interior from becoming entirely invisible. Above, the staircase at the Grant Street entrance. Below, the revolving doors and clock at the Grant Street entrance.

The lobby is shaped like a T, with a hall from the Grant Street entrance ending at the long hall from Forbes Avenue to Fifth Avenue, seen here from the Forbes Avenue entrance.

Even Henry Frick himself is gleaming white marble, rendered by the well-known sculptor Malvina Hoffman in 1923.

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.

Allegheny Building

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.

Entrance to the Frick Building

The Frick Building was designed by Daniel Burnham to convey one message, and with its austere classical dignity it succeeds perfectly. The message was “Henry Frick is more important than Andrew Carnegie.” The Frick Building dwarfed the Carnegie Building next door, which had once been the tallest in the city; by the time Frick had surrounded Carnegie’s building with taller buildings, the Carnegie Building was no longer an attractive place to be, and it was demolished to make way for the Kaufmann’s annex.