Three Gateway Center

Three Gateway Center

Seen in 1999 from Equitable Plaza, which was in much better shape in those days.

Tower Two-Sixty

Tower Two-Sixty

The blockish Tower Two-Sixty looms over the little human-sized buildings on the Diamond.

Craftsman-Modernist Apartment Building, Mount Lebanon

Apartment building on Academy Avenue

Well, this one didn’t quite work.

Old Pa Pitt has mentioned how he enjoys seeing the experiments builders try with small apartment buildings. Here we see a builder who seems to have absorbed some of the ideas of modernism and added some Craftsman-style details: the three-over-one windows, the decorative brickwork, the wood-framed entrance. But the details seem applied at random, and a modernist architect would have been more regular in the geometry. Note the lack of rhythm or alignment in the windows, which throws off the whole façade. The second and third floors have windows in groups of 2, 1, 3, 2; the first floor has groups of 2, 1, 2, 1, and they do not line up at all with the windows above them. The entrance does not line up vertically or horizontally with anything else in the building; its awkward corner placement seems to leave some of the trim hanging off the edge.

Someone will probably come along and tell Father Pitt that this building is by a famous modernist architect, and old Pa Pitt will only say that the architect was having a bad day.

Allegheny Center

Allegheny Center

The curious urban clutter of Allegheny Center, a grand plan to build a completely new urban center for the North Side that, like most such plans from the 1960s, had at best only partial success. It destroyed almost the entire core of the old city of Allegheny, replacing it with modernist blocks and apartment warehouses. The clock tower at middle left marks the old Allegheny branch of the Carnegie Library, which stands at the end of a row of buildings preserved amidst the destruction. In the foreground, some of the millionaires’ mansions of Allegheny West.

Torath Chaim Congregation, East Liberty

Some work has been going on at this abandoned synagogue, so perhaps it will find a new purpose. The abstract menorah (it once had electric light bulbs for candles) and irregular horizontal stone date it to the middle twentieth century. But although you wouldn’t know it from the front, this is really a luxurious early-1900s private house with a modernist façade grafted on.