A Triple Success


Nick Myall, News Editors
July 25, 2018

The Union Trust Building in Pittsburgh wins the American Architecture Award for its landmark restoration, along with St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, designed by James Renwick Jr., and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois


The Union Trust Building has been honored with a 2018 American Architecture Award for building restoration from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, the nation’s highest public award given by a non-commercial, non-trade affiliated, public arts, culture and educational institution. Of the 100 shortlisted buildings, only 3 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, IL.

Originally designed by Frederick John Osterling (1915-1916), the award for The Union Trust Building was presented to Elkus Manfredi Architects for their detailed, innovative design in restoring and re-envisioning the 100+ year-old 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.

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 non-commercial, non-trade affiliated, public arts, culture and educational institution.

The Union Trust Building is a 500,000-square-foot architectural landmark constructed in 1915 and located at 501 Grant Street in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square. 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.

“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 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.

“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.”