World’s Largest Monolithic Columns (Again)

Columns of the Mellon Institute

The Mellon Institute, designed by the prolific Benno Janssen, claims the largest monolithic columns in the world. Columns like these are usually made as a series of joined cylinders, but each column here is a single piece of stone. When the client wants to send the message “I spent money on this,” nothing is more effective than giving him the world’s largest something-or-other.

Note how, unlike most other monumental buildings in Oakland, the Mellon Institute has retained the sooty evidence of decades of heavy industry.

Institute Calls to Institute

Mellon Institute reflected in the Software Engineering Institute

The titanic columns of the Mellon Institute reflected in the Software Engineering Institute.

Colonial Trust Company

Colonial Trust Company

A splendid banking hall with façades by Frederick Osterling. The Wood Street one above is one of his late works, from 1926. Many of the banks along Fourth Avenue went for height, building some of the first skyscrapers; the Colonial Trust Company went for length. Its main hall extends all the way through from Fourth to Forbes, with elaborate façades at both ends; it later extended a perpendicular arm to Wood Street. Below, the Fourth Avenue façade from 1902, also by Osterling. We can see how much his ideas of classical architecture had changed in 24 years. In 1902 he chose the Corinthian order and elaborated it with every kind of ornament of which classical architecture is capable; in 1926 he chose the Ionic order and kept the ornamentation to a minimum.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral

The classical style of this church, which is now the cathedral for the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, is quite unusual for a Greek Orthodox church. Greek Christians do not usually build in a Greek classical style—and the style of this church, with the prominent arch in the front, is more Roman than Greek. The explanation is that it was built for Methodists; the Orthodox congregation bought it from them.

Even if you don’t know much Greek, you can probably guess that this is the name of the church in Greek: “St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral Church.”

Ionic capital

One of the splendid Ionic capitals that hold up a front of which Vitruvius would have approved.

Decorations on the Parkvale Building, Oakland

The richly decorated Parkvale Building on Forbes Avenue is currently under renovation, so we can hope that these splendid reliefs will continue to delight future generations of Pittsburghers.