The City-County Building’s distinct physical appearance creates one of the most recognizable visual features within the City of Pittsburgh and its unofficial downtown historic civic district (roughly bounded by Fifth Ave., the Crosstown Blvd., Boulevard of the Allies, and Cherry Way). With Grant Street as the district’s axis, recognized and unrecognized landmark buildings are plentiful: the Allegheny Courthouse, the County Building, the Grant Building, the Robins Building, the Oliver Building. Hornbostel, in designing the City-County Building, specifically tailored the registers of the façade to reflect those in the Allegheny Courthouse. Yet the smooth, grey granite of the façade stands in stark contrast to the vary array of materials, textures, and hues that define the courthouse. It should be noted that the visual prominence of the City-County Building within downtown has been enhanced since its construction with the demolition of nearly all historic structures and the creation of a parking lot across immediately across the street in the block bounded by Forbes Ave., Grant St., Fourth Ave. and Cherry Way.
While the City-County Building is one of the most visually defining features on Grant Street, it is also an independent visual feature of the City.