Dressed for the Occasion: Eclectic Architecture in Pittsburgh
A series by Walter C. Kidney
7. "Modern" at various times. Part II
Around 1920, American architecture became more traditional, in a rather loose way. Avant-garde Europe now favored stark, geometrical design that had little appeal here. But by the end of the 1920s the Moderne — which included the flowery style we now call Art Deco and the more geometrically ornamented Modernistic — had popularity in apartment houses, smart shops, and business and industrial buildings housing Progress in its various manifestations.
Here are two industrial headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh: the Gulf and the Koppers Buildings, Gulf Oil Corporation.
The Koppers Company, makers of chemical by-product recovery machinery, had their architects deviate from their usual Classicism to produce a building gracious but conspicuously new. The roof, of green copper, may be a rebus.
An interior of the Koppers Building. The mathematically-based ornamental style of the Modernist Claude Bragdon may be a source.
An electrical substation in Sewickley includes some seemingly allegorical metalwork.
The Medical Arts Building was Modernistic, though much of its once-progressive detailing has been removed.
Now and then, the new styles appeared on houses and other modest structures: this house is in Swan Acres, one of several.
A doorway of unknown purpose, with a group of putti.
Nevertheless, these were exceptions, styles and manners chosen in non-traditional contexts. Tradition, however loosely interpreted, prevailed in the Eclectic period.
Building. 1929. Graham, Anderson, Probst & White
(Chicago), architects. These rather staid firms attempted to express progressive