The Frick Building

The Frick Building

The Frick Building was opened on March 15, 1902, and originally had twenty floors. It was the second tallest building in the city at that time. It rises 330 feet above Downtown Pittsburgh, and is located at 437 Grant Street. The building is also accessible from Forbes and Fifth Avenues.

The Frick Building - 1902
The Frick Building and County Courthouse in 1902.

The Frick Building is one of the major distinctive and recognizable features of Downtown Pittsburgh. The tower was built by, and is named for, Henry Clay Frick, an industrialist who created several commercial buildings in Pittsburgh. A Greek Classical design of steel encased in limestone and granite, the construction of the Frick Building marked the beginning of corporate dominance on Grant Street. The Frick Annex, a 19-story building adjacent to the Frick Building, was added in 1906.

The Frick Building lower levels.
The Frick Annex stands next to the Frick Building.

The architecture inside the Frick Building is befitting the man that the structure is named for. The lobby features an elegant stained-glass window by John LaFarge, depicting "Fortune and Her Wheel". Two bronze sentinel lions in the lobby were created by sculptor Alexander Proctor. A bust of Frick by sculptor Malvina Hoffman is displayed in the rear lobby, which extends from Forbes to Fifth Avenue.

The interior of the Frick Building.

The top floor includes a balcony around the perimeter of the building, a high, handcrafted ceiling, and heavy, elaborate brass door fixtures. Henry Clay Frick used it as his personal office and as a meeting place and social club for wealthy industrialists.

The Frick Building offices are home to some of the top legal firms in Western Pennsylvania. The building is well situated for members of the legal profession, standing across Grant Street from the County Courthouse.

The Frick Building

The Frick Building was located on an area of downtown known as "the Hump." In 1912, a leveling of the surrounding landscape lowered the ground level nearly twenty feet. This caused the building's basement to become the entrance and lobby. The columns at the base of the building were originally at street level before the leveling of "the Hump. The lowering of the entrance made the marble lobby even more impressive by making it two stories tall. The lowering of ground level also added another story to the height of the building, making it officially a twenty-one story skyscraper. The former ground floor became the Mezzanine.

The Frick Building lower levels.
The ground level of the Frick Building was lowered in 1912
during removal of The Hump on Grant Street.

Other buildings built by Henry Clay Frick in Pittsburgh are the 23-story William Penn Hotel (1916) and the Union Arcade, now known as the Union Trust Building. He was also involved in the construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Union Station.

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