Union Trust Building honored with architectural award

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo

Marylynne Pitz
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette July 11, 2018

A $100 million restoration of the landmark Union Trust Building, Downtown, has received the American Architecture Award for 2018.

Of the 100 shortlisted buildings, only three of the awards were given for the preservation of historically significant American buildings. The award was presented to Elkus Manfredi Architects for their detailed, innovative design in restoring and re-envisioning the Union Trust Building, which was completed in 1916.

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 Flemish-Gothic building was originally commissioned by industrialist Henry Frick. Today, it is owned by an investment fund affiliated with The Davis Companies of Boston, which acquired the property at 501 Grant St., in 2014. The building reopened in 2016.

Projects nominated for the American Architecture Award are evaluated on 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. 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 given by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

In its redesigns, The Davis Companies retained the building’s unique architectural features and historic charm while redefining it as a vibrant, LEED certified, mixed-use retail/office 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,” Jonathan Davis, CEO of The Davis Companies and a Pittsburgh native, said in a press release. “It is a great honor to be recognized by the American Architecture Awards committee for turning one of the city’s most historic and inspired buildings back to its turn-of-the century grandeur.”