Allegheny General Hospital

Allegheny General Hospital

An Art Deco interpretation of the skyscraper style old Pa Pitt calls “Mausoleum-on-a-Stick,” in which the cap of the skyscraper is patterned after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The architects, York & Sawyer, seem to have been taken with the style; they designed another Mausoleum-on-a-Stick building in the same year (1926) for Montreal. You can see a picture of it in one of old Pa Pitt’s earlier articles on Allegheny General Hospital.

The original skyscraper hospital was a marvel of practical hospital design. Everything radiates from a central core of elevators, and nothing is more than a few steps from the elevator. Later the hospital was expanded with new buildings in wildly mismatched styles, so that the complex has become the hopeless jungle of dead-end corridors and mismatched floors usual in big-city hospitals.

Allegheny General Hospital

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The only really elegant skyscraper on the North Side is this hospital, designed by York & Sawyer in 1926. The style is what old Pa Pitt likes to call “Mausoleum-on-a-Stick”: the central tower is topped by an Art Deco interpretation of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. This is one of three Mausoleum-on-a-Stick towers in Pittsburgh, and two of them are hospitals (the other being Presbyterian Hospital in Oakland). The third is the Gulf Building,which was designed by the originators of the style.

Below, we see the hospital with the narrow streets of Dutchtown in front of it.

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York & Sawyer built two skyscrapers in 1926 with notably similar designs. The other is the Royal Bank Tower in Montreal, which was the tallest building in the British Empire at the time (though it did not compare with the tall buildings of New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh). The picture at left, by “Thomas1313,” was made available on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.