Designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the successors to H. H. Richardson, this church has an honest Richardsonian pedigree to go with its Richardsonian Romanesque style.
Can you tell that old Pa Pitt is enjoying his new software toy? The picture above is a wide-angle shot stitched together from nine separate photographs. The fisheye view below is stitched together from six; if you click on it, you can have it at about 38 megapixels.
Finally, here’s a picture from the north side of the church, where there is room to get far away enough to take the picture all in one shot.
Oakmont is proud of its collection of Victorian houses, most of them frame structures on the respectable and impressive end of the Victorian spectrum rather than the whimsical and gingerbready end. Here is an album of a few of Oakmont’s fine houses.
Frederick Sauer was a very reliable church architect responsible for many of Pittsburgh’s better Catholic churches, including St. Mary of the Mount. Nothing about his churches would stamp him as an eccentric; he gave his clients exactly the respectable buildings they wanted. But he had a streak of whimsy in him. He bought a large tract of land on the hill over Aspinwall and designed a very conventional and respectable house for himself. Then he started to play in the back yard. Beginning with his chicken coop, for example, he added fairy-tale projections and curious details, building up and out until he had made an apartment building, the Heidelberg Apartments (above). He did much of the building with his own hands, eventually creating half a dozen or so curious structures back in the woods behind his house. They now form the Sauer Buildings Historic District—one of those curious Pittsburgh treasures probably known less to Pittsburghers than to the rest of the world, where they are often mentioned as one of the most interesting flights of architectural eccentricity in America.
Old Pa Pitt has done his best to make this picture look like an old colored postcard. Henry A. Macomb won a design competition for this gatehouse, whose tower is clearly influenced by the tower of the Allegheny County Courthouse downtown. The entrance buildings were finished in 1889, just after the courthouse opened, and some last-minute changes to the tower were probably intended to make it look more like Richardson’s work on the courthouse.
For the first time since the boom of the 1980s, two skyscrapers are going up at once downtown. The Tower at PNC Plaza has topped out, and Tower Two-Sixty at The Gardens is rising on Forbes Avenue just up the street from the Diamond. We can see one of the cranes and a bit of the skeleton of the latter between two of the Fourth Avenue bank towers.
The modernist ideal: towers in a park. It works here better than it works almost anywhere else it has been tried. The architects, incidentally, were the firm of Eggers & Higgins, who were the successors to John Russell Pope.
Old Pa Pitt decided to make this picture look as much as possible like an architect’s rendering. He was trying out the LightZone photo software, which will take some getting used to. For correcting lens distortion, he used the GIMP.
This massive slab on the Lower Hill, built in 1964, was designed by I. M. Pei—one of his earlier large works. It was meant as a typically idealistic International-style city-in-a-tower, with shops on the ground floor, recreational opportunities for the residents, and basically no reason ever to leave the premises. Pei might not be too happy about the recent renovations: the interior has been redesigned, and the stark white color has been changed to warmish industrial grey, which is all right if you like that sort of thing.
The building was called “Washington Plaza” for most of its life, but was renamed “City View” last year. Right now, however, it still carries the words “Washington Plaza” and the big trademark W on the west end of the building.
Old Pa Pitt must admit that he has never been a great fan of Pei’s work, but the architectural world at large loves him: his firm designed the John Hancock Tower in Boston, a building most famous for the multiple ways it has attempted to kill innocent Bostonians, but also one given multiple awards by the architecture industry. “Form follows function” is apparently not what architects really believe.
Camera: Kodak EasyShare 1485 IS.