Union Trust Building: A Timeless Icon of Pittsburgh’s Architectural Heritage

Union Trust Building Roof

The Union Trust Building is a landmark in Pittsburgh. The building is an iconic symbol of the city’s rich history and its architectural heritage. This magnificent structure is located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh on the corner of Grant St. and Fifth Avenue. and has played a significant role in shaping the city’s skyline for over a century.

Historical Significance of the Union Trust Building

Union Trust building

The Union Trust Building was constructed in 1915, during a time when Pittsburgh was experiencing a period of rapid growth and development. It was erected  by the industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Modelled as a Flemish-Gothic structure, it was originally intended to be a shopping arcade. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Frederick J. Osterling and John D. Sanderson. The building was constructed as a testament to the city’s economic growth and was intended to be the headquarters of the Union Trust Company.

The building was built during a time when Pittsburgh was known as the “Steel City.” The building’s construction was a reflection of the city’s thriving economy and its position as a major center of commerce and industry. The Union Trust Building was a symbol of the city’s success and its aspirations for the future.

The Construction of the Union Trust Building

Union Trust Building 1916

The construction of the Union Trust Building was a massive undertaking. The building is 11 stories tall and has a total floor area of over 500,000 square feet. The construction of the building took over two years to complete and required the services of over 1,000 workers.

Union Trust Building Under Construction 1916

The building was constructed using the latest construction methods and materials of the time. The building’s exterior was clad in white terra cotta, and the interior was finished with marble, bronze, and other high-quality materials. The building’s design was a reflection of the city’s aspirations for the future and its confidence in its economic growth.

Union Trust Rooftop 1916

Architectural Features of the Union Trust Building

The Union Trust Building is a masterpiece of architecture. The building’s design is a combination of several architectural styles, including Beaux-Arts, Renaissance Revival, and Classical Revival. The building’s exterior features intricate details and ornamental elements, including carved stone figures, ornate cornices, and decorative columns.

Many think that the interesting roof of the Union Trust Building is because of a restrictive covenant placed on the piece of land by the Diocese of Pittsburgh. There was a story that then bishop Richard Phelan placed the restrictions on it when Frick bought it. He wanted residents to always remember a cathedral was once there. Other rumors say there is a requirement that a place of worship must be maintained forever on the site. This is all urban legend—there were no such things in the original 1901 deed, which transferred the use from religious to secular.

The building’s interior is equally impressive, with a grand marble staircase, a large atrium, and ornate plasterwork. The building’s design was intended to convey a sense of grandeur and opulence, reflecting the city’s aspirations for the future.

Renovations and Restoration of the Union Trust Building

Union Trust Building Pittsburgh interior

Over the years, the Union Trust Building has undergone several renovations and restorations. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2011.

The most significant renovation of the building took place in the early 2000s. The renovation restored the building’s exterior to its original grandeur and updated the interior to meet modern standards. The renovation was a massive undertaking, costing over $100 million and taking several years to complete.

The Union Trust Building’s Role in Pittsburgh’s Architectural Heritage

The Union Trust Building is a landmark in Pittsburgh’s architectural heritage. The building is a testament to the city’s economic growth and its aspirations for the future. The building’s design is a reflection of the city’s confidence in its economic growth and its position as a major center of commerce and industry.

The Union Trust Building is one of Pittsburgh’s most significant architectural landmarks. The building’s design and construction are a testament to the city’s rich history and its architectural heritage. The building is a reminder of the city’s past and its aspirations for the future.

The Current Use of the Union Trust Building

Today, the Union Trust Building is home to several businesses and organizations. The building’s ground floor is occupied by several retail stores and restaurants, while the upper floors are used as office space.

The building’s interior has been updated to meet modern standards while preserving its historical character. The building’s grand marble staircase and ornate plasterwork have been restored, and the building’s exterior has been returned to its original grandeur.

Visiting the Union Trust Building

The Union Trust Building is open to the public. Visitors can explore the building’s interior and exterior and learn about its rich history and architectural heritage. Guided tours of the building are available, and visitors can also attend events and exhibitions held in the building’s grand atrium.

Future Plans for the Union Trust Building

The Union Trust Building is an important part of Pittsburgh’s architectural heritage, and its preservation is essential for future generations. The building’s current owners have announced plans to continue to maintain and update the building while preserving its historical character.

Future plans for the building include the addition of new retail and restaurant spaces, as well as the renovation of several upper floors to accommodate new office space. The building’s owners are committed to preserving the building’s historical character while ensuring its viability for the future.

Union Trust Building Roof

The Union Trust Building is an iconic symbol of Pittsburgh’s rich history and its architectural heritage. The building’s design and construction are a testament to the city’s economic growth and its aspirations for the future. The building has played a significant role in shaping the city’s skyline for over a century and is a testament to the city’s success and its confidence in its economic growth.

Visitors to Pittsburgh should take the time to visit the Union Trust Building and explore its rich history and architectural heritage. The building is a reminder of the city’s past and its aspirations for the future and is an essential part of Pittsburgh’s architectural heritage.

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