How the House Came To Be

Robert Frank, Alan’s father and the third generation of Pittsburgh industrialists in his family, was an engineer devoted to inventing new products and building a new company, Copperweld Steel. His mind was open to innovative ideas, including modern architecture. As his family grew, he and his wife Cecelia started planning a new home.

“Mother and Dad considered Gropius the world’s leading architect,” Alan recalls. Gropius came to Pittsburgh to give a talk, and Robert attended. Inspired by what the new architecture could achieve and its potential to realize their ideals, Cecelia, Robert, and their young son Alan met with the architect at his office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, followed by a visit to Gropius‘ home in Lincoln. The Franks‘ interest grew. Long letters followed the meetings, and a collaboration was formed.

Gropius and Breuer came to Pittsburgh many times during the project, first to look at various parcels of land that were for sale, and then repeatedly throughout the design and construction. Cecelia and Robert contracted with a leading national construction company to do the building, and arranged for Pittsburgh architect Dahlen Ritchey, who had been a student of Gropius at Harvard, to supervise the construction.

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