Tag: Renaissance Architecture

  • Pittsburgh Athletic Association, Oakland

    Pittsburgh Athletic Association

    The Pittsburgh Athletic Association, one of the prolific Benno Janssen’s most elaborate designs, as it was in 2000 before the recent renovation. Above, from across Fifth Avenue; below, from the grounds of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial. Old Pa Pitt took these pictures with a Kodak Retinette, which comes close to his ideal of the perfect 35-millimeter camera.

    Pittsburgh Athletic Association and cannon
  • Concordia Club, Oakland

    Concordia Club

    The Schenley Farms section of Oakland was crusty with clubs a century ago, but few were as influential as this one.

    Charles Bickel designed this elegant clubhouse for a Jewish gentlemen’s club made up mostly of members of the Rodef Shalom congregation. To call it a gentlemen’s club brings up images of well-dressed men sitting inert with newspapers in their hands, but these gentlemen were far from inert. These were gentlemen who got things done. This club was the incubator of Reform Judaism; it was at the club (when it lived on the North Side) that the Pittsburgh Platform was signed.

    This clubhouse was built in 1913, and the club continued to use it for almost a century. It finally fell to the same forces that evicted most of the other clubs in this section: declining membership in our antisocial age, and the bottomless well of money that the University of Pittsburgh can draw on. It was sold to Pitt in 2009, and is now known as the O’Hara Student Center.

    Concordia Club
  • Holy Rosary Convent, Homewood

    Holy Rosary Convent

    Like the rectory behind it, this is a simple and dignified Renaissance palace that sets off the flamboyant Gothic of Holy Rosary Church.

  • Maul Building, South Side

    Maul Building

    The Maul Building, built in 1910, was designed by the William G. Wilkins Company, the same architects who did the Frick & Lindsay building (now the Andy Warhol Museum). Both buildings are faced with terra cotta, and both lost their cornices—the one on the Andy Warhol Museum has been carefully reconstructed from pictures, but the one here is just missing. The rest of the decorations, though, are still splendid.

    Indian head
    Swag
    Torch
    Pilaster
  • Carnegie Library, Lawrenceville Branch

    Lawrenceville branch library

    This fine little Renaissance palace, built in 1896, was the first of Carnegie’s branch libraries, and thus arguably the vanguard of the whole idea of branch libraries. It was also the first public library with open stacks, where patrons would just walk to the shelf and pick up the book by themselves. In other libraries—including much of the main Carnegie in Oakland until a few years ago—the patron would ask for the book at the desk, and a librarian would run back to the mysterious stacks and fetch it.

    Like all the original libraries in the Carnegie system, this was designed by Alden & Harlow.

    Carnegie Library Lawrenceville
  • Rectory of Holy Rosary Church, Homewood

    Rectory, Holy Rosary

    After the flamboyant Gothic of Holy Rosary, this stately Renaissance palace is quite a contrast.

  • Top of the Arrott Building

    The top of the Arrott Building, rendered in old-postcard colors by the Two-Strip Technicolor script for the GIMP.

  • German Savings Deposit Bank, South Side

    German Savings Deposit Bank

    This is now the Carson City Saloon, because everything on the South Side eventually becomes a bar. But the whole building shouts “bank.” It’s built from classical elements like a Venetian Renaissance palace.

    Carson City Saloon

    The date stone tells us that the bank was put up in 1896, with palm fronds signifying victory, and anti-pigeon spikes signifying “We hate pigeons.”

    Ironwork

    This ornamental ironwork is meant to evoke the balconies on a Renaissance palace, without actually being useful as a balcony.

    1401 East Carson Street
  • Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association, Oakland

    Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association

    If your club was prospering, you could have a clubhouse by Benno Janssen, Pittsburgh’s favorite club architect. Among the club buildings he designed that are still standing we may mention the Twentieth Century Club, the Keystone Athletic Club, the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, the Masonic Temple, and this one, a cultural and athletic center that was one of the ancestors of today’s Jewish Community Center. Like several of Janssen’s other club buildings, this one, built in 1924, takes the form of a Renaissance palace. The building now belongs to Pitt, of course, which calls it Bellefield Hall and still keeps up its splendid indoor swimming pool.

    Inscription

    The university has glassed in the huge arch that forms the main entrance; old Pa Pitt has ruthlessly manipulated this picture to bring the inscription out from behind the glass.

    Cartouche

    Father Pitt imagines the sculptor, having worked months to intertwine the letters Y, M, W, and H in this artistic cartouche, proudly presenting his work to Mr. Janssen and being told, “You left out the A.”

    With fountain in foreground

    A view of the building from Heinz Chapel’s new formal garden across the street.

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, Polish Hill

    Immaculate Heart of Mary

    William P. Ginther, an Akron-based architect who also gave us St. Mary’s in McKees Rocks, designed this magnificent church, but much of the labor was done by the Polish railroad workers who formed the congregation. The design is inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome; this church isn’t quite on that scale, but it certainly dominates the neighborhood, and it would make a fine cathedral.

    Immaculate Heart of Mary