Architecture

Courtesy of Ted Zellers

Basement toilets are a pervasive feature of Pittsburgh homes -- so much so that one local photographer set out to document them.

And although local lore suggests they were first installed so that mill workers and miners could clean up before entering the main part of the house, multiple local experts said they couldn't verify that, and most declined to weigh in on how these mysterious home features came to be.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

There are more than a few Egyptian-themed tombs sprinkled amid the sprawling expanse of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery, but among the looming obelisks, pyramidal headstones and even its fellow mausoleums, there is one imposing white granite structure that stands out.

Courtesy of Ted Zellers

Ted Zellers has knocked on doors from the West End to the North Side to Polish Hill and beyond, all to ask people if he can have a look in their basements.

“I’ve been surprised about how positive the reactions of people have been,” he said. “I was really worried when I started this that a lot of people would think I was a weirdo for wanting to do this.”

The Lawrenceville resident and amateur photographer is compiling photographs of those lone basement toilets. He said he’s hoping to one day share them in some kind of coffee table book, or eventually a gallery show.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

An overflowing stream following heavy rain toppled a large bronze statue at architect Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania, officials said.

The flooding early Saturday from Bear Run, which flows beneath the National Historic Landmark in Fayette County, toppled a tree that hit a wall and apparently dislodged the "Mother and Child" statue from its place, said Director Lynda Waggoner, of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

The interior of the home wasn't damaged.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are in the midst of multi-year building booms. More than 4,000 apartment units were built in the two cities last year.

For many years in Pittsburgh, new apartment buildings weren’t a priority: the city had plenty of available housing stock and, despite a steady flow of college students, fairly pedestrian demand. But in 2012, 958 new units were built. The next year, that number jumped to 3,227 and hasn’t fallen below 2,100 since, according to Jeff Burd, president of Tall Timber Group, an information service for the construction industry.

Jaunt / App Store

Pittsburgh architecture, modern and contemporary, is highlighted as part of a new app called Jaunt. The program derives from a partnership between Boston-based architecture firm Over. Under and Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture and is designed to educate users about a little over 100 buildings located in Pittsburgh.

Reflecting On The Design Of Peter Muller-Munk

Nov 20, 2015
Peter Muller-Munk / Carnegie Museum of Art

Peter Muller-Munk, a German immigrant to Pittsburgh, rose from being a relatively obscure silver smith to one of the top designers of consumer products in the 20th century. The Carnegie Museum of Art will be telling his story in a new exhibit titled “Silver to Steel.” Rachel Delphia, co-curator of Silver to Steel,  joins us to talk about the exhibit and the works of Muller-Munk.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

If asked to identify a giant in American architecture, the name Frank Lloyd Wright may be the first person who comes to mind. This region has the good fortune to be within driving distance to one of his most famous buildings, the iconic Falling Water.

This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for Wright designed buildings, not far from Pittsburgh. Wright has more than 500 completed structures across the United States, and these are just a few of his designs.

Amazon

Last week the Carnegie Museum of Art posted a tweet with an old advertisement for a 1960 Westinghouse Center Drawer Refrigerator asking,

“Have you seen one of these in your garage or in your neighbor’s basement?”

Pittsburgh 2030 District Challenge

Aug 8, 2013
Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

It’s been a year since the beginning of Pittsburgh’s 2030 District Challenge. The private-public initiative aims to cut energy, water and transportation consumption of downtown buildings in half by the year 2030.

According to Sean Luther, Director of the Green Building Alliance, a number of the big name buildings have signed on to the program’s pledge. Some of the most notable buildings include the US Steel Building and one of the oldest buildings downtown, the Allegheny Courthouse. In total, the buildings involved in the challenge account for more than 50% of downtown’s square footage.