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Heinz Lofts

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H. J. Heinz Company Factories
1889, attributed to Frederick J. Osterling, various dates, additions, Robert Maurice Trimble, Albert Kahn, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; 2003–2005 loft conversions, Sandvick Architects and Developers. 300 Heinz St.
  • Heinz Lofts (H. J. Heinz Company Factories) (HABS)

From this riverside site, Henry J. Heinz staged a revolution in food-processing and packaging techniques, ultimately building his food and condiment business into a global operation. The brand began modestly in 1869, with Heinz selling horseradish out of his family's house in Sharpsburg, three miles up the Allegheny. Twenty years later, Heinz consolidated his offices and plants in this model industrial complex, which grew to thirty-two buildings. Still standing are fine examples of late-nineteenth-century industrial buildings and noteworthy newer additions.

Heinz began life as a bricklayer, and these marvelous brick walls show the patron's understanding of the craft. Indeed, the old man caught his death of cold in 1919 while inspecting construction of a brick wall in this complex. Nearly everything that went up during his lifetime was in Romanesque Revival, probably designed by the local master of that style, Frederick J. Osterling. Utilitarian buildings executed in brick with stone trim, the structures feature corner spires, pronounced corbeling, and Roman arches, some structural and some decorative. Among the best-preserved older structures are the Bottling Building (1896; with 1905 additions), the Bean Building (1912), and Robert Maurice Trimble's Meat Products Building (1920).

Two of the early Heinz buildings depart from the Romanesque Revival idiom. Outside the complex, on E. Ohio Street, stands the Tudor Revival Sarah Heinz House designed by Trimble in 1913, a neighborhood youth center. And at the heart of the complex stands the five-story reinforced-concrete Administration Building (1906), by pioneer industrial architect Albert Kahn. Its neoclassical lines, rusticated Gouveneur granite facing, and white terra-cotta piers underscore its status as the seat of managerial power.

Kahn returned to the complex to add the four-story Employee Service Building, in close conformity with the earlier Romanesque Revival units. This housed dining facilities, auditorium, and other amenities for Heinz workers. Seeking to avoid the labor unrest that bedeviled other Pittsburgh industries, Heinz established benign but firmly paternalistic policies to encourage productivity among his employees. Kahn's other structure, an annex of 1930 to the Administration Building, shows a clear stylistic break; it is a severe industrial block of light-colored brick, devoid of ornamentation.

In 1949, the company demolished seven obsolete buildings and commissioned Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to erect a Vinegar Works and a central storage warehouse. The blue-colored glass curtain wall of the Vinegar Works marked the first use of the International Style among Pittsburgh corporations, and an early and bold use of uncompromising modernism for industrial use anywhere in the country. While food processing does continue in some parts of the complex, the former Shipping, Meat, Bean, Cereal, and Reservoir buildings were converted to housing units between 2003 and 2005.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.



  • 1889

  • 2003

    Adaptive reuse

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Lu Donnelly et al., "Heinz Lofts", [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 96-98.

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