Tag: Starrett and van Vleck

  • Gimbels Building

    This was built in 1914 as the Kaufmann & Baer Department Store, the Kaufmanns in the name being brothers of the Morris Kaufmann who owned the Big Store two blocks away. It was bought out by the Gimbel Brothers eleven years later, and for generations of Pittsburghers this was the Gimbels Building. Its name is now officially Heinz 57 Center, but most people still call it the Gimbels Building. The architects, Starrett & van Vleck, were specialists in department stores from New York.

    Terra cotta swag and head

    Acres of terra cotta went into decorating the Smithfield Street and Sixth Avenue faces of this building.

    Terra cotta
    A different terra cotta swag and head
    Terra-cotta panel
    Corinthian capital
    Beside a window

    And of course there was the clock. It was not as famous or elaborate as the Kaufmann’s clock, but it was another good place to meet someone downtown. This is obviously a good bit more recent than the building itself: it has a streamlined Art Deco look.

  • Gimbels Building

    This was actually built as the Kaufmann and Baer department store in 1914—the Kaufmann of the name being another branch of the family that owned the even bigger Kaufmann’s department store two blocks away. In 1925 it was taken over by Gimbels, and it remained Gimbels until the chain evaporated in 1986, so every old-timer in Pittsburgh remembers it as the Gimbels Building. The lower floors are occupied by retail stores now; the upper floors are offices.

    The architects of the building were the New York firm of Starrett & van Vleck, who were responsible for many of the flagship department stores in big Eastern cities.