Constructed in 1916 and financed by Henry Frick, one of America's leading industrialists the Union Trust building is an indoor shopping complex and office building that was known as the Union Arcade in its early years. The building was designed by architect and Pittsburgh native Frederick Osterling with a Flemish-Gothic design reminiscent of the Municipal Hall in Leuven, Belgium. The building is perhaps best known for its twin, chapel-like towers which sit atop its mansard roof. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and designated as a historic site by the Pittsburgh Historic Landmark Foundation in 1968. Today the Union Trust Building is a mixed-use structure, with retail and office space.
In the late
19th century, Pittsburgh’s downtown area continued its
transformation from a residential center to an industrial and business hub. As a result, the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Pittsburgh decided to relocate its mother church from downtown to the growing
suburbs, in this case, the Oakland neighborhood. It then sold the land occupied by its
original church to Henry Clay Frick.
Frick then used part of the acquired land to build an 11-story building
that included 240 shops and galleries on its first four floors and office space
on the remaining levels. The remaining
space is now home to the William Penn Hotel.
employed Frederick Osterling as the architect and he designed a distinctive
structure in the Flemish-Gothic style.
The exterior of the square building (it measures 255 feet x 255 feet) features
a mansard roof with terra cotta dormers and, in a nod to the Catholic church that
once occupied the space, two short towers on its roof that resemble church
spires. Inside, Osterling centered the 517,000
square-foot structure around a 150-foot rotunda that is capped with a large circular
stained-glass window. It features marble
floors, mosaic tile ceilings, additional stained-glass windows at both main
entrances on Grant Street and 5th Avenue, a 400-seat theater and two
massive vaults, one with a 55-ton door, in its basement.
was sold to the Union Trust Company in 1923 and its first four floors were
remodeled. It has been known as the Union
Trust Building ever since. It was then
sold to the one-time owner of the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Penguins,
Ed DeBartolo Sr. in 1983 and then to the California based Mika Realty Group in
2008 for $24.1 million. The building was
then largely abandoned for a time until it was sold at a sheriff’s auction to
the Boston based real estate and development firm, Davis Companies, for $14
million in 2014.
then went through a 2-year, $100 million renovation, to include the addition of
a 190-space subterranean parking garage, a fitness center, conference room for
up to 75, and a reception room that can seat 100. In addition, the exterior façade was cleaned
and restored as was the building’s roof, elevators and 10th floor
theater while over 50 exterior terra cotta pieces were replaced using original
molds found in the basement. Finally,
large 10’ x 34’ photographic collages of Pittsburgh’s cityscape have been added
at various public spaces within the building.
The lower floors still house retail space to include several
restaurants, while the upper floors remain largely the home of various