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Type-Casting Buildings

All buildings enclose space, but each type has evolved to serve its purpose.

Churches and temples

St. Boniface

Clyde Hare for Pittsburgh History & Landmarks

Churches and temples usually have tall pointed or domed parts such as windows, roofs and spires that point upward toward heaven and symbolize people's aspirations for God.


St. Peter's Episcopal (gone), Oakland (Clyde Hare for Pittsburgh History & Landmarks)


Allegheny Middle School

Schools usually look boxy and have groups of large windows because they have large boxy classrooms, auditoriums and gyms on the inside.


Allegheny Middle School, North Side (Pittsburgh History & Landmarks)

Commercial buildings (stores)

Carson Steet, South Side

Mainstreet s tores have large windows so people will see the merchandise from the street and want to come into the store and buy something.


Carson Street, South Side (Jim Judkis for Pittsburgh History & Landmarks)

Office buildings

Carnegie Building

Office buildings are tall because they are built in the city on expensive land: builders want to build as many offices as they can on as little land as they can. Tall office buildings were built only after steel beams and the elevator were invented.


Carnegie Building (gone), Downtown (Pittsburgh History & Landmarks)


Heinz Factory

Factories have large low buildings so that they can have complicated manufacturing processes in one place. Smokestacks take smoke away from the building and release it into the air.

Heinz factory, North Side (Susan Donley)

Public buildings

Allegheny County Courthouse

Public buildings are designed to look formal and dignified so people will respect the government and other official organizations housed inside.



Allegheny County Courthouse (Pittsburgh History & Landmarks)


Houses in Vintondale, PA

Houses in Schenley Farms

Houses are the most common building type. There are many different kinds of houses. Even when built alike, people tend to make them look different from each other.


Top: Vintondale, Cambria County, PA (Susan Donley)

Bottom: Schenley Farms, Oakland (Pittsburgh History & Landmarks)

Adapted from: Pittsburgh Heritage Curriculum, Louise Sturgess, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 1986.

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