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The Progressive Architecture Of Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr

The Progressive Architecture Of Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr

Martin Aurand
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 184
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    The Progressive Architecture Of Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr
    Book Description:

    Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr. (1872-1958) was the rare turn-of-the-century American architecht who looked to progressive movements such as Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement for inspiration, rather than conventional styles. His fresh house designs and plans for apartment buildings and multifamily "group cottages" feature dramatic massing, rich detailing, and a wide variety of materials such as brick, stucco, wood, exposed steel, decorative tile, and ary glass. Scheibler envisioned each building as a work of art, integrating architecture and ornamentation. Prized today, Scheibler's best works are scattered through Pittsburgh's East End and easter suburbs.

    This richly illustrated volume, the first comprehensive study of Scheibler, includes 125 historic and contemporary photographs and drawings, a catalouge raisonne of all of Scheibler's known projects - including many not recorded in any other published source - a list of books in Scheibler's library, and a selected bibliography.

    Martin Aurand discusses Scheibler's life and career, the influences on his architectural concepts, his artistic sensibility and tastes, and his lasting significance.The Progressive Architecture of Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr.,will be read by architects and aficionados who cultivate an interest in Scheibler's imaginative constructions and innovative ideas and by all who are interested in the progressive architecture of the early twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7037-8
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, History

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    The work and significance of architect Frederick G. Scheibler, Jr., were first noted in print in an article by reporter Penelope Redd published in thePittsburgh Sunday Sun-Telegraphin 1934. She wrote: “The younger generation of American museum officials have spent much time and effort in tracing back the beginnings of contemporary art in the United States. A major share of the research has centered upon architecture. The name of Frank Lloyd Wright is pre-eminent since his work is regarded as being directly responsible for the ‘International Style of Architecture.’ Few persons, other than architects, know that Pittsburgh also has...

  2. 1 Man and Architect
    (pp. 9-17)

    Frederick Gustavus Scheibler, Jr., was born on May 12, 1872, the son of William Augustus and Eleanor Seidel Scheibler.¹ Although his father’s name was William, Frederick was a junior because he was named for his uncle Frederick. William Scheibler was variously a clerk, a bookkeeper, a salesman, and a partner in McAllister and Scheibler, wholesale grocers. The Scheiblers resided on Bouquet Street near Craft Avenue in Pittsburgh’s South Oakland district. Frederick was the second child-he had an older sister, Eleanor. They were later joined by younger siblings Anna and William.

    Little is known of the maternal side of the...

  3. 2 Half and Half
    (pp. 18-27)

    Scheibler did not immediately take up the progressive banner. Like many a young architect, his first independent efforts as a designer were constrained by his training and the need to find commissions. From the start he demonstrated fluency with a neoclassical vocabulary and a competent understanding of a number of other architectural styles. Some of his early buildings were wholly conventional; but he also displayed a restlessness that was expressed in experimentation and some mildly unconventional work. As Scheibler himself put it, “I went through a half and half period.”¹ While he established himself in his profession, Scheibler began to...

  4. 3 Old Heidelberg
    (pp. 28-38)

    To all immediate appearances, the Old Heidelberg apartment building (fig. 22) sprang full-blown and with great suddenness from the mind of the architect in the spring of 1905. There had been intimations of a new direction in Scheibler’s previous work, but nothing to indicate the thorough transformation represented by the Old Heidelberg.¹

    According to one published report, clients Robinson and Bruckman wanted “something unique, and of a worthy appearance to occupy [the site] in one of the most aristocratic [sic] neighborhoods of the city [i.e., Park Place].”² Fred Bruckman provided the name Old Heidelberg because his family had emigrated from...

  5. 4 The New Manner
    (pp. 39-53)

    Following the success of the Old Heidelberg, Scheibler received commissions from new clients for four major apartment buildings over the next three years. These clients were doubtless acquainted with the Old Heidelberg, and their commissions suggest their approval of Scheibler’s new manner and their willingness to promote it. The buildings that resulted achieved a high level of sophistication and demonstrated Scheibler’s rapid assimilation of progressive ideas and principles.

    The first two new apartment buildings, the Whitehall (fig. 33) and the Linwood (fig. 34), were each located not far from the Old Heidelberg. They were evidently designed concurrently, and were virtually...

  6. 5 Group Cottages
    (pp. 54-69)

    One manifestation of the progressive movements was a reformist effort led by architects and planners to improve living conditions for the working and middle classes. This effort took shape most prominently in England as the Garden City Movement, which promoted the creation of new self-sufficient towns that would realize the amenities of urban life in semirural and healthful surroundings. Garden City housing was intended to be a vast improvement on the crowded conditions and architectural monotony of typical urban housing. The remedy called for houses and broken housing rows that would be varied in architectural composition and set back behind...

  7. 6 Highland Towers
    (pp. 70-82)

    In 1913, at the height of his powers, Schetbler returned to the medium-sized apartment building one last time when he designed Highland Towers (figs. 63–64) for Daniel L. Dillinger in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty-Shadyside district. I Harry Hasson, then manager of D. L. Dillinger Properties, was the rental agent for Highland Towers, and his office may have been the source of a marketing brochure that included a rendered image of the building (fig. 65), a floor plan (fig. 66), and effusive prose (see fig. 67):

    In this splendid apartment, owner, architect and builder have worked together to give not only...

  8. 7 The Artistic House
    (pp. 83-104)

    In turn-of-the-century America, the growth of the middle class dramatically altered the urban landscape, not only with the introduction of apartment buildings and group housing, but also with the construction of ever increasing numbers of freestanding single-family dwellings. In a common scenario, Pittsburgh’s East End filled rapidly with houses devised with an economic rather than artistic rationale. Basic plans were used over and over, and familiar details were more or less randomly applied. A typology of basic house types can account for most dwellings. Even Kiehnel and Elliott’s Stengel house (fig. 75), one of few Pittsburgh houses that aspired to...

  9. 8 Channed Territory
    (pp. 105-121)

    After the achievements of Highland Towers and Vilsack Row, Scheibler’s use of a very rich decorative palette seems reactionary, but his projects of the early twenties were more elaborate than anything that came before. Eva Harter blamed this on the influence of her husband, Frank, who apparently encouraged Scheibler to indulge in what she called “doodads.” An impulse toward romantic elaboration was, however, a not unnatural by-product of the artistic house philosophy. As Baillie Scott rather histrionically put it:

    The natural reaction from the dry mechanical routine of modern life leads to a demand for Romance in every form. In...

  10. 9 Up-to-Date and Familiar
    (pp. 122-131)

    Following the extravagances of the early 1920S, Scheibler’s work turned away from elaboration and idiosyncratic architectural concepts toward increasing simplification and a more common denominator of contemporary design. The impulse toward simplification waxed and waned in Scheibler’s work, and its reemergence in the late 1920S seems not unnatural, in the wake of such romantic excesses. The growing normalization of Scheibler’s work was new, however—heretofore only his very earliest projects could claim to have met any contemporary standard of normalcy. This tendency was made evident, to a greater or lesser degree, in all of Scheibler’s subsequent work, to the end...

  11. 10 A Place Among Progressives
    (pp. 132-136)

    Scheibler was a talented architectural form giver. His buildings took shape as simple volumes, commonly comprised of one or two basic building blocks. He favored elemental geometric forms like the cube and basic roof types like the gable and the hip roof. But he turned gables, broke up rooflines, used subsidiary forms to extend basic volumes, and added more complex forms such as polygons to set up complicated overall geometries. He experimented with unexpected forms such as flat roofs.

    He explored dynamic contrasts of solids and voids by juxtaposing solid masses with incidents of fenestration that opened up and were...

  12. Appendix I Catalogue of the Works of Fredrick G. Scheibler, Jr.
    (pp. 139-152)
  13. Appendix II Scheibler’s Library
    (pp. 153-154)