Skinny Building Under Wraps

Skinny Building shrouded

The Skinny Building and its neighbor the Roberts Building have been bought by PNC. Here they are shrouded for renovation work. The last old Pa Pitt heard, PNC was planning on displaying art in the upper windows of the Skinny Building.

Union National Bank Building

Union National Bank Building

Now converted to luxury apartments as “The Carlyle,” this classical Fourth Avenue bank tower was designed by the firm of MacClure and Spahr. Benno Janssen, who was working at the firm, is said to have had a large part in the design. It opened in 1906. Curiously, the building behind it, the Commonwealth Bank Building, was built at the same time and reached exactly the same height, 300 feet.

Reliefs by John Massey Rhind on the People’s Savings Bank Building

Relief by John Massey Rhind

John Massey Rhind was Andrew Carnegie’s favorite sculptor; he gave us the Noble Quartet in front of the Carnegie Institute and the statue of Robert Burns outside Phipps Conservatory. Here he gives us some allegorical figures to adorn the entrances to the People’s Savings Bank’s splendid tower at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street. Not altogether coincidentally, the building itself was designed by Alden & Harlow, Carnegie’s favorite architects, whose firm (with their earlier partner Longfellow) was also responsible for the Carnegie Institute. Above, the Wood Street side; below, the Fourth Avenue side.

Fourth Avenue side

Reflection of the Union National Bank Building

Union National Bank building reflected

The top of the Union National Bank Building (now the Carlyle luxury apartments) reflected in the Patterson Building.

Keystone Athletic Club

Keystone Athletic Club, now Lawrence Hall

Two universities in Pittsburgh have signature Gothic skyscrapers. Everybody knows the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt, but Lawrence Hall at Point Park University is also Gothic and also a skyscraper. By a strange coincidence that probably no one else in history has noticed (this is how dedicated old Pa Pitt is to you, his readers), it is within a foot or two of being precisely half the height of the Cathedral of Learning. (Cathedral of Learning: 535.01 feet; Lawrence Hall: 265.72 feet. Source: Emporis.com.)

It was not always Lawrence Hall, of course. It was built as the Keystone Athletic Club in 1927; the architect was Benno Janssen, who also designed the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, the Twentieth Century Club, and the Masonic Temple, all in Oakland, and a remarkable number of other prominent buildings in the city. The Depression was hard on clubs; the Keystone Athletic Club (doubtless saddled with debt from building a skyscraper clubhouse) collapsed in 1934, and after that the building was a hotel until Point Park College picked it up in the 1960s. It was renamed for the Renaissance mayor David Lawrence, and now it anchors the ever-spreading downtown campus of the university.