Tag: Renaissance Architecture

  • Some Details of the Fulton Building

    Light well in the Fulton Building

    The Fulton Building was one of a pair of buildings designed for Henry Phipps by New York architect Grosvenor Atterbury; the complementary but not identical Bessemer Building has long since been replaced by a parking garage. In the close view of the light well above, we can see how much thought went into sucking up every photon for the interior offices. Those bays take in light from every possible angle. In many of our prominent buildings, the light well is hidden in the back, but in the Fulton Building it is made the characteristic feature of the front that faces the river.

    Fulton Building in 2015

    The picture above was taken in 2015, before the Renaissance Hotel put a sign at the top of the building.


    The name on the marquee is new, but the marquee itself came with the building. It is attached to the wall with a pair of steampunk chimeras:


    Elaborate chains supporting the marquee are attached to these monogram brackets:

    Bracket with monogram

    Cameras: Kodak EasyShare Z981; Olympus E-20n.

  • St. Mary’s Church, Dutchtown

    St. Mary’s German Catholic Church

    Father John Stibiel specified this church, which was built in 1854 for his German parish, and he is usually credited as the designer of it. Some architectural historians, however, think that the architect may have been Charles F. Bartberger, the elder of the two Charles Bartbergers, who made similarly Romanesque designs for St. Paul of the Cross Monastery Church and St. Michael’s, both on the South Side Slopes.

    The vestibule in front was designed by Sidney F. Heckert and built in 1906.


    The church narrowly escaped demolition for the Parkway North. Along with the adjacent priory, it was bought by a Pittsburgh businessman who successfully turned the priory into a hotel and the church into “Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall,” a place for weddings and other events.

    Front of the church

    This composite view suffers from the inevitable distortion of the towers, but it otherwise gives us a good notion of the whole front of the church.

  • Logan-Gregg Hardware Co. Building

    Logan Gregg Hardware Co. Building
    Composite of six photographs.

    Built in 1915 from a design by Charles Bickel, who was probably our most prolific architect of commercial buildings. It is now part of the Creative and Performing Arts High School, the rest of which has adopted the horizontal stripes as a running theme.

    We also have a perspective view of the building.

  • Centennial Building

    Composite of two photographs.

    So called because it was built in the year of the Centennial, 1876. We have not yet discovered the architect (and neither has anyone else, so far as we know), but it is a work of rare taste. The ground floor has been modernized, but in a sympathetic way that does not detract much from the elegance of the overall composition.

  • Base of the Law & Finance Building

    Base of the Law & Finance Building

    The Law & Finance Building was a rather old-fashioned skyscraper when it went up in 1927–1928. It was designed by Philip Jullien of Washington (D. C., where he wasn’t allowed to design skyscrapers, owing to city height limits that are still uniquely in place) in the base-shaft-cap formula typical of the early age of skyscrapers. It even has the regulation bosses’ floor above the base.

    Base of the Law & Finance Building

    What is unique is the row of ornamental heads above the bosses’ floor, perhaps representing the severed heads of the developer’s political opponents.

    Ornamental heads
    Ornamental head
  • Standard Life Building

    Standard Life Building

    Built in 1903, this early skyscraper was designed by Alden & Harlow, who festooned it with terra cotta.

    Plaque: “Standard Life Building, 345”
    Fruity swag
    Terra cotta
    Standard Life Building
    Canon PowerShot SX150 IS.
  • Base and Bosses’ Floor of the Benedum-Trees Building

    Base and bosses’ floor of the Benedum-Trees Building

    Built in 1905 as the Machesney Building, this early skyscraper was designed by Thomas Scott, who kept his office there, which doubtless made a strong first impression on potential clients. It was renamed eight years later when it was bought by a pair of oil barons, and it has been the Benedum-Trees Building ever since.

    Here we see the generous base of the building, with three-storey Corinthian pilasters and huge windows. Above it is the “bosses’ floor.” For a short lesson in reading a Beaux Arts skyscraper like this, see our article on the West Penn Building.

    Entrance to the Benedum-Trees Building
  • A Stony Row on Liverpool Street, Manchester

    Row at Liverpool and Fulton Streets
    Kodak EasyShare Z1285.

    This row of stone-fronted houses is a good example of late-Victorian eclecticism. The heavy rustic stone and elaborate foliage decorations say “Romanesque,” but the porch columns have “modern Ionic” capitals typical of the Renaissance. And it all works together just fine, though it might give an architectural pedant hives.

    Modern Ionic capital
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.

    The stonecarving was probably done by Achille Giammartini, who lived a few blocks away on Page Street.

    Achille Giammartini advertising his services

    Hiding in the shadows is a whimsical grotesque face that may remind us of somebody we know.

    Grotesque foliage face
    Row of stone houses
    Front door

    Note the old address, 185, carved in stone beside the door to what is now 1305 Liverpool Street. The addresses in Manchester changed at about the time Allegheny was taken into Pittsburgh.

    1301–1309 Liverpool Street, Manchester
  • The Chesapeake and the Chamberlin, Shadyside

    The Chesapeake and the Chamberlin

    A pair of identical apartment buildings, now known by their addresses (5758 Howe and 5754 Howe). They were built in 1908; the architect was C. J. Rieger. Though they have lost their cornices (which, to judge by the size of the scars, must have been elaborate), the rest of the details are well preserved, showing a Renaissance or Baroque style flavored with Art Nouveau.

    Entrance, closer
    Lion’s head
    Female cameo
    Male cameo
    Chesapeake and Chamberlin
    Nikon COOLPIX P100.
  • Renaissance Palace in Schenley Farms

    Harry J. Parker house

    Louis Stevens was best known as a designer of romantic châteaux and French cottages for the well-to-do, but if you asked him for a Renaissance palace, he was up to the task. The Harry J. Parker house was built in 1915 on a prominent corner where Bayard Street meets Bigelow Boulevard, and it is a standout in a neighborhood of splendid houses.

    Front door
    Gilded ironwork
    Perspective view