Henry Clay Frick originally commissioned the building. Following the Chicago school of architecture, the building features a granite base and terracotta exterior. Beginning around the 1960s, however, the building gradually fell into disrepair coinciding with the decline of East Liberty. Classical ornament on the roof was replaced with substandard material and water entered the basement. Over time, the interior would essentially become destroyed.
Prior to 2012, the Highland Building experienced twenty years of complete dormancy. With assistance from the state of Pennsylvania and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, construction began in 2012 to restore the exterior and reconstruct the interior of the Highland Building, join it with the adjacent three-story Wallace Building, and convert the entire complex into 127 apartments. The project, now completed, is described as, "Walnut on Highland" and is mostly leased. Recently, the last of the retail space in the Wallace Building was filled by a Mexican Restaurant.