Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh

September 1, 2011

Construction begins on 2

nationality rooms

Two new Nationality Rooms are scheduled to open next spring, bringing the total number to 29 of the authentically appointed classrooms in the Cathedral of Learning that symbolize the ethnic foundations of the City of Pittsburgh.

Construction on the new Swiss Nationality Room (room 321) and Turkish Nationality Room (room 339) is expected to be completed by the end of 2011, with official dedication ceremonies in the planning stages for next spring.

The first Nationality Rooms were completed in 1938, soon after the dedication of the Cathedral of Learning. The original rooms are located on the Cathedral’s first floor, and the more recently constructed rooms circle the third-floor corridors overlooking the Commons Room.

Like all its companions, the two new nationality rooms represent an outstanding architectural or design tradition from before 1787, the year of Pitt’s founding.

Additional Nationality Rooms in the development stage include Danish, Finnish, Iranian, Latin American, Philippine and Thai.

turkishTurkish Nationality Room

The spatial concept of the Turkish Nationality Room is based on an interpretation of the bas oda (main room) interior of a traditional Turkish residence, called hayat. The Turkish hayat had a specific rural character, with an open gallery on the upper floor, affording a view of the nearby landscape. Typically constructed with an iwan opening (a vaulted space walled on three sides) at the central axis, the hayat traditionally was the center of daily domestic activity.

The room’s entryway will simulate a characteristic receiving room prominent in Anatolia, a region in eastern Turkey. A focal point will be a ceramic panel of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938), the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, who in 1928 unveiled a new Turkish alphabet based on a modified Latin alphabet, which replaced Arabic.

The room also will feature murals depicting Turkish history and reflecting the three major historic cultures — the Uyghurs, the Seljuks and the Ottomans.

The new room’s ceiling and walls will feature kundekari — woodworking that forms geometric patterns and was common in Turkish architecture dating to the 12th century.

Turkish architect

Swiss Nationality Room

swissThe image below, is an earlier concept illustration by Fred Carlson, vice chair of the Swiss Nationality Room committee, replicating details of the common room in the Landesmuseum, the Swiss national museum located near Zurich.

The Swiss Room final design has been amended. It calls for four long thin trestle tables that represent languages spoken in Switzerland — French, Italian, German and Romansch — instead of one large table as depicted here.

The stabellen, or country style, chairs feature images that represent the 26 cantons (Swiss states) dating back to the 13th century.

The leaded windows include small stained-glass elements highlighting the first three cantons that unified in 1291 against the Hapsburg monarchy.

The portraits of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827), two Swiss educator-philosophers, will hang on the back wall.

The kachelofen, or ceramic tile oven, shown in this view will be constructed in the corner to the far right.

The map is an antique map in Latin of the Swiss region circa 1700, with the Latin name for Switzerland being Helvetia.

—Peter Hart

Swiss concept

Filed under: Feature, Volume 44 Issue 1

Email This Post Email This Post