Union Trust Bldg. Wins Architecture Award

Grant St. facade/Robert Benson Photography

This reimagined building is among the most desirable downtown workplace locations. / © Robert Benson

Pittsburgh PA  – The Union Trust Building was recently honored with a 2018 American Architecture Award for building restoration from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.

The award  was presented to Elkus Manfredi Architects for its detailed, innovative design in restoring and re-envisioning the more than 100-year-old, 500,000sf structure. The building was originally commissioned by the industrialist Henry Frick and is now owned by an investment fund affiliated with The Davis Companies of Boston, which acquired the property in 2014, and assembled the team to re-envision and restore the property in 2015-2016.

Through a $100 million restoration, The Davis Companies retained the building’s unique architectural features and historic charm, while redefining its future as a vibrant 21st-century, LEED-certified, mixed-use retail/office building structure with state-of-the-art amenities and 28 original Pittsburgh-inspired works of art.
Roof corner detail

. Ornamental features on the upper mansard roof and dormers were restored and repaired.. / © Robert Benson

Each year, the nominated projects are judged against a range of criteria, including design vision, innovation, and originality; capacity to stimulate, engage, and delight occupants and visitors; accessibility and sustainability; and how fit the building is for its purpose and level of client satisfaction. The judges recognized the Union Trust Building for being “academically rigorous in terms of repairs, reversibility, and in the selection of new materials.”

Now in its 24th year, The American Architecture Awards are bestowed by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. The American Architecture Awards are the nation’s highest public awards given by a noncommercial, non-trade-affiliated, public arts, culture, and educational institution.
“It was our goal to invite people in and bring vibrant energy back into the building, its surrounding streets, and parks,” stated Jonathan Davis, CEO of The Davis Companies and Pittsburgh native. “It is a great honor to be recognized by the American Architecture  Awards committee for turning one of city’s most historic and inspired buildings back to its turn-of-the century grandeur.”
The Union Trust Building, originally designed by Frederick John Osterling ,  has garnered several awards, including the American Architecture Prize for Architectural Design/Restoration & Renovation; the Reconstruction Awards – Gold from Building Design + Construction magazine; a Certificate of Merit – Historic Preservation from AIA Pittsburgh, and, most recently, Honors in Restoration from the Society of American Registered Architects.
Of the 100 shortlisted buildings, only three of the awards were given for the preservation of historically significant American buildings, including the Union Trust Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill.
“The Davis Companies’ vision to restore Union Trust Building is heroic. Revitalizing and bringing new life to this important building marks a new day for the people of Pittsburgh and for everyone who values our country’s important historic buildings,” explains Elizabeth Lowrey, principal at Elkus Manfredi Architects. “We are thrilled to have helped achieve this goal and to have five distinguished awards commemorate the building’s restoration.”