Thursday, August 5, 2010

Clues & Questions

Not much documentation has surfaced concerning the architectural design process for Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh - either the original 1890 building or the 1938 sanctuary redesign. So it was with much anticipation that I discovered an online reference to renderings for the church, in the Carnegie Mellon University Architecture Archives, attributed to James Steen. Since Steen, a prolific Pittsburgh architect, died in the early 1920s, I expected to see presentation drawings for the 1890 competition. I found lovely pencil and watercolor depictions from a later date, possibly by one of Steen's sons, possibly after his death. Each raised its own questions and each hinted at some tantalizing possibilities. I engaged in some speculation about the renderings in two features at my website devoted to the church's architecture. Date of Origin considers a depiction of the sanctuary (above) much as it appeared after 1938. A New Chapel for Shadyside Church? concerns a chapel design (below), never executed, but possibly influential on later features of that worship space. The Steen firm was not the architect for either the sanctuary or the chapel. Speculation is fun, but confirmation, clarification or contradiction remains my hope.