Architecture & Neighborhoods

Mister Rogers’ Real Neighborhood

With the recently released film and documentary about Fred Rogers, the national spotlight is shining on the man who changed the face of children’s television. He was known internationally, but since he resided in Pittsburgh and created “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” here at WQED, he is often associated with the city. However, his roots are less …

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A Bauhaus Masterpiece

Is a house private or public? Like any compelling opposites, each really only exists with measured dollops of the other. Choices of how to eat, sleep, bathe and relax are very private. Yet the artistic movements or common practices inflecting those selections are very public—from publications and exhibitions to the sprawling possibilities of the design …

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The Deserted Streets of Pittsburgh 

In Downtown Pittsburgh, a beat cop checks the doors of businesses along Penn Avenue. The streets are empty except for the occasional person waiting at a bus stop. Market Square has an eerie feeling; eateries remain open for takeout, but few people pass through. On quiet Grant Street, an Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department vehicle passes …

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Mill 19: A Magnificent Blend of Past and Future in Hazelwood

At an early September opening for Mill 19, the new robotics research incubator and office space in Hazelwood’s former LTV Steel site, a robotic arm participated with scientists and dignitaries to help cut the ribbon in the voluminous lab space with a high-tech flourish. Tenants include Carnegie Mellon’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative and the affiliated nonprofit …

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Charlie’s Village Turns 100

It all started after Charles Bowdish returned to his hometown of Brookville, Jefferson County, after a stint in the U.S. Army during World War I. Exposed to mustard gas during the war and left with respiratory illness, he commenced building a miniature railroad and village so finely detailed that it was an instant hit when …

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Hard Times in Yellow Dog

In 2014, Joe Meyer moved across Pennsylvania with a dream of transforming Yellow Dog Village, an abandoned limestone mining town in Armstrong County, into a living historic site where tourists could experience life in the early 1900s. Five years later, facing tax liens and unable to secure financing, Meyer’s dream of restoring Yellow Dog into …

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The New MuseumLab: Past Transformed for Future

At nearly 130 years old, the building is an antique, but the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny, known casually as the Carnegie Library of the North Side, was built to look centuries old from the start. Following the Romanesque Revival style of H.H. Richardson’s recent Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail, cut stone, rhythmic arches and …

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Bringing Back Pittsburgh’s Steps

Along Schenley Drive in Oakland, the Frick Fine Arts building looks like a Renaissance villa, well suited to the grandeur of the adjacent Carnegie Museums and Library in the cultural part of Oakland. At the parking lot in back, though, you find the public steps down to Joncaire Street, a descent of 130-some treads into …

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History, Charm and Vitality

Saxonburg was founded as a German farming settlement in 1832 by brothers Friedrich C. and John A. Roebling, immigrants from Mühlhausen, Prussia, who purchased 1,582 acres. Destined to become history’s most famous Saxonburg resident, John had studied surveying, engineering, architecture and hydraulics in Europe. He soon lost interest in farming and began developing a crucial …

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Pittsburgh at Twilight

Some cities are known for spectacular sunsets. Photographer David Aschkenas finds that, in Pittsburgh, the most interesting light is just before sunrise. Experience Pittsburgh at twilight in this collection of intriguing photographs. View more of David Aschkenas’s work at www.daschkenasphoto.com.

Car Cathedral

Since its completion in 1931, the towering stone St. Helen’s Catholic Church has stood like a beacon atop Main Street in East Pittsburgh. Now it’s a car club and garage with country club perks. Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Bishop David Zubik announced the permanent closure of the church—vacant for four years—along with others in March 2014.“Though …

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Frick Environmental Center Achieves Living Building Challenge Status

Great architecture should be built for the ages. Imposing piles, whether in stone or steel, are supposed to indicate heroic resistance to the ravages of the elements as both practicality and art. And yet in the era of the environmental movement, some portion of this equation has been inverted. We now ask, what is the …

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Everything Must Change



 Everything must change. Nothing stays the same, and there aren’t too many things you can be sure of. At least that’s what George Benson says. It’s a heartbreaker of a song, but I think he’s right.  

 For Mother’s Day, my family took me to the Strip District, It’s one of my favorites with markets …

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America in a Trance: An Observation of the Fading American Dream

About two decades ago, my father moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, which was my second experience with the United States. In the late 70s, he journeyed from Greece to New York City to work on his post-graduate studies, which evidently led him to the Keystone State. Living in Pennsylvania and traveling through its cities and towns, …

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Leading Lines

The photography of Emmanuel Panagiotakis reveals a love of light and form. With technical intricacy, he captures images that transform spaces. Panagiotakis is a native of Chios, Greece, but has called Pittsburgh home for almost 30 years. His photography takes him all over the world, yet it’s the beauty of his adopted city that never …

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An Artful Blend

At their best, cities cultivate relationships among buildings across time. Destroy too many historic structures, and you lose memory, craft, and persistent cultural value. Fail to build new buildings well, and you risk stasis and irrelevance. The balance of time periods should be art as well as commerce. Accordingly, a new building with sophisticated and …

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The Fate of a Prison

For a sprawling building in an ambitious Romanesque style on a conspicuous riverfront site, Western Penitentiary has spent most of its life in architectural obscurity. After an auspicious start, it fell quickly from prominence. Now, it may soon fall to the wrecking ball. Begun in 1879 in Woods Run along the Ohio River and partially …

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Song of the North Side

Take a look at Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood through the lens of David Aschkenas in this never-before published photo collection from our archives. Want to see more? Check out our archive for previously published installments of “Song of…” written by Barry Paris, photographs by David Aschkenas. Song of Kittanning Song of Weirton Song of Lawrenceville …

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Looking at Lubetz

Stand at the top of the angles stairs in the entry to the Squirrel Hill Library, and you are cantilevered out and over Forbes Avenue, beyond the facades of surrounding buildings. The way the building creases and folds here, you can see outside and back in at the same time. Go past the free-standing elevator …

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The Unconventional Pays Off

Sometimes a building aims to look as if it has always been there. Frequently, architects match the brick of the surrounding neighborhood and use slightly modernized versions of traditional details to make a structure appear that it’s been there longer than it has. This is not such a bad thing. Buildings end up being agreeable …

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Strip Stake

Pittsburgh’s Strip District is the place where everyone comes for everything. With redevelopment occurring on every edge of this one-half square mile tract, city planners, business owners and residents are looking to strike the right balance. Bring in the new developments and luxury condominiums, but keep the character—the boutiques and bars, ethnic restaurants and groceries, …

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A Monument Then and Now

Did the demolition of the greenfield (really the Beechwood Boulevard) Bridge feel like the passing of an era? The urbane, concrete arch span of 1923 was crumbling far too ominously above the speeding traffic of the Parkway East to be able to stay in place, so it was ceremoniously demolished. A replacement will be completed …

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