Courthouse Roof Replacement

A Historic Building

The Allegheny County Courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, was designed in 1883 by Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Construction began in 1884 and was completed in 1888. Unfortunately, Richardson did not live to see his masterpiece completed – he died in 1886.

The building’s architecture is characterized by the classic symmetry of the Renaissance with Romanesque details, including Syrian arches, Byzantine capitals, late French Gothic dormer windows, and French Renaissance roofs. Among the most impressive features are the bell tower, rising 326 feet, as well as the picturesque silhouettes of the roof lines, smaller towers and turrets.

The Courthouse reflects Hobson's stature as one the greatest American architects. It draws visitors from throughout the world who marvel at the building’s simple style, dignity and strength.

Roof Replacement Project

The Courthouse roof, which is original to the building, is covered with approximately 454,000 terra cotta tiles, which have become weathered and damage over the past 130 years. The roof replacement project includes:

  • Removing all original tiles
  • Inspecting steel framing and supports
  • Installing plywood, ice and water shields, and felt paper
  • Installing new terra cotta tiles made by the original manufacturer, Ludowici Roof Tile

Due to the size of project, it has been broken into two phases:

  • Phase 1 – Replacement of roofs facing the street
  • Phase 2 – Replacement of roofs facing the courtyard 

Additionally, Franco Associates repaired and repointed the Courthouse’s three towers, which include the bell tower on Grant Street and two smaller towers on Ross Street. The tower roofs are unique because they are made of granite slabs. Crews accomplished the work by repelling from the tops of the towers.