Three PNC Plaza

An architectural rendering of the first of the new wave of “green” skyscrapers in Pittsburgh. In spite of its modest dimensions, it was the largest building put up downtown in many years, and kicked off what will probably be remembered as the third downtown Renaissance.

Two PNC Plaza

Seen from the Smithfield Street side of the plaza. The “plaza” itself could have been a distinctive and beautiful urban space, but poor and seemingly random planning—of which the intrusive parking-garage entrance here is a good example—has marred it.

Earlier we published a view of Two PNC Plaza from the Liberty Avenue side.

May Building

Built in 1909, this is a typical small Beaux-Arts skyscraper. Its base has been unsympathetically modernized, and perhaps at the same time it grew an ugly parasitic infestation in the rear; but the basic shape of the building is still intact.

One Gateway Center

One Gateway Center seen from across the Allegheny. The three Gateway Center towers were one of the most-watched developments in postwar America; it seemed as though the modernist ideal of towers-in-a-park would finally obliterate congestion and unpleasantness in our cities, and the original plan was to cover the whole Point with identical towers. Fortunately money ran out long before that happened. Money concerns also spared us at the last minute from the pedestrian brick cladding that was planned for these towers; it proved cheaper to encase them in shimmering metal. The result is an International Style cruciform tower with a bit of the elegance of Art Deco.

Eggers & Higgins, the architects, were the successors to John Russell Pope, and thus responsible for completing the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. Clearly they were stylistically versatile.

Camera: Canon PowerShot S45.

Fulton Building

Camera: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3.

Designed by Grosvenor Atterbury, this is now the Renaissance Hotel. The entrance to the Byham Theater is on the Sixth Street side of the building; the theater is actually a different building next door, the entrance being a long passage all the way through the Fulton Building.

The grand arch in the light well seems to echo the arch of the Roberto Clemente Bridge—a coincidence, since the bridge was put up about twenty years later. It is a pleasure to see an architect making the light well a feature rather than hiding it in the rear as if he were ashamed of it.

Camera: Olympus E-20n.

Alcoa Building, North Shore

The Alcoa headquarters is a modernist symphony in aluminum. Father Pitt confesses to liking this building a great deal better than the old Alcoa building downtown, which still looks like a pile of old television sets to him.

Frederick Osterling’s Architectural Studio

Frederick Osterling built this charming little building in 1917 to be his office and studio. From it he had  a fine view of the Pittsburgh skyline that he was helping shape—a view now blocked by the new Alcoa building.