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August 28, 2014

What’s New at Pitt: Places

The hustle and bustle that marks the beginning of the academic year has returned: The proliferation of laundry carts and upperclass student volunteers pointing the way to newcomers and their families during Arrival Survival.

But for many at Pitt, the hazy days of summer have been anything but lazy: Facilities were renovated; faculty and staff came and went; academic programs were established.

The University Times asked deans, unit heads and others: “What’s New at Pitt?” The summaries that follow are overviews of school news based on material submitted by the units. Information previously published in the University Times was not included here.

The listings were coordinated by Kimberly K. Barlow and Marty Levine.


Heinz Chapel is getting air conditioning. The upgrade will help preserve the building, its pipe organ and woodwork. The building will be closed January through May while the climate control system is installed. It will reopen June 1.

Facilities Management recently consolidated energy-related operations on the fifth floor of the Eureka Building. The Facilities Management Energy Center has been established to provide a culture of comprehensive energy conservation.

It is designed and equipped to increase collaboration among energy managers, engineers and building automation system personnel and provide technicians and managers with integrated access to the building automation system and other diagnostic tools.

The center will monitor, maintain and operate the University’s mechanical systems efficiently to conserve money and energy while maintaining comfort for building occupants and meeting environmental requirements of modern teaching and research facilities.

Pitt placed first in the university category in its first year of participation in the Sustainable Pittsburgh 2013-14 Green Workplace Challenge.

The challenge is a yearlong competition among businesses, nonprofits, municipalities and universities to track and measure improvements in managing energy, water, waste and transportation.

The entrance to the Petersen Center has undergone a “green facelift” with planting beds, lawn areas and casual seating replacing concrete to make the sports facility more sustainable and more attractive.

The new green facelift of the Petersen Center’s entrance.

The new green facelift of the Petersen Center’s entrance.

The third floor of the William Pitt Union, which accommodates student group activities, has been renovated. Updates included wall and ceiling finishes, lighting and mechanical systems, plus restroom upgrades and workout facilities.

Posvar Hall’s more  environmentally friendly roof.

Posvar Hall’s more environmentally friendly roof.

At Posvar Hall, three sections of roofing totaling 5,400 square feet have been replaced with “green” roof technology.

Those roof sections have been topped with growing medium and low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants that reduce storm water runoff, improve the roof’s insulating properties, improve air quality, moderate the urban heat island effect and extend the life of the roof.

The Mulert Memorial Classroom in 204 Cathedral of Learning has been refurbished with refinished flooring and woodwork, as well as rebuilt and reupholstered student tablet armchairs.

The School of Rehabilitation Sciences Department of Physical Therapy has moved to Bridgeside Point 1, 100 Technology Drive, Suite 210.

The third and final phase of Benedum Hall upgrades is underway and the renovated ground floor labs recently opened.  Classrooms G36 and G37 have been upgraded to distance learning rooms with new monitors, cameras, lecterns, lighting and a fresh coat of paint.

The ninth floor of Benedum Hall is the most recent project completed in the ongoing restoration. The floor is home to the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and includes offices, labs and classrooms, as well as the Lubrizol Innovation Laboratory.

The Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers/Pittsburgh chapter recognized the $154 million transformation of Benedum Hall with its 2014 Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award. Renovations to the 15-story building, constructed in 1971, include an annex housing the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, a new Electric Power Systems Lab and other new laboratory, classroom and office space.

A helium recovery and liquefaction plant is under construction as an expansion of the Nuclear Physics Laboratory. This facility will facilitate the continuation of research activity for scientists who rely on experiments conducted at extremely low temperatures. The facility will be online by the end of the spring term.

The Department of Chemistry’s renovated undergraduate teaching laboratories on the first floor of the Chevron Science Center are opening this fall term.

The new design that has been incorporated into all general and organic chemistry teaching laboratories provides laboratory bench space around the periphery of each lab where students will conduct their experiments. Vented enclosures and fume hoods are available; laptop computers will allow students to access up-to-date technology resources as they complete their assigned tasks.

Each lab accommodates 24 students in both recitation (pre-lab) and laboratory sessions. The three labs feature the most modern air systems and building management systems.

An integrated network enables teams of students to take direct digital readings from their experiments and record experimental parameters on their wall-mounted touchscreen notebook PCs and on a central file server from which data can be shared and compared.

To provide additional flexibility, one lab has been designed to accommodate space for instructor training and practice experiments.

Renovations at Chevron Science Center for the organic chemistry group are on track. Construction of ballroom research lab space on the 13th floor is scheduled for completion in December. The space will accommodate an expanding cadre of faculty who are working on organic synthesis and chemical biology.

Built in the 1970s, Chevron Science Center houses undergraduate laboratories, graduate research groups and administrative offices for the Department of Chemistry.

In addition to modernizing the department’s facilities, the update will relocate the “Fish Bowl” (a popular location for undergraduates to receive tutoring assistance from teaching assistants) to the Ashe mezzanine, where it will be renamed “On the Balcony.”

Clapp Hall is being renovated with significant Pennsylvania Department of General Services funding. The project will increase capacity for the expansion of biological sciences department research and new undergraduate biology labs in response to the continued growth of incoming freshman classes. Completion is scheduled for August 2015.

National Science Foundation funding provided the impetus for replacing the antiquated research building (Building 12) at the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology.

The new research building at the Pymatuning Lab of Ecology.

The new research building at the Pymatuning Lab of Ecology.

Officials from Pitt and Sichuan University in China participated in a groundbreaking ceremony on July 2 at the Sichuan University campus in Chengdu to launch construction of a 300,000-square-foot building that will house the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute, a joint engineering institute to educate undergraduate students and foster collaborative research.

An artist’s rendering of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in Chengdu, China.

An artist’s rendering of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in Chengdu, China.

The partnership between Pitt and Sichuan University was established in 2013. With emphases on advanced sustainable manufacturing and educational innovation, the institute initially will offer three undergraduate degree programs: industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science and engineering. Students in the institute will be recruited from the United States, China and possibly other countries, with the first class in fall 2015 expected to comprise 100 students. Enrollment is projected to grow to a total of 1,600.

Sichuan University is investing nearly $40 million to support the construction and equipping of the new building to house the institute on its campus; the Swanson school will oversee the curriculum development and academic policies.

Faculty from around the world will be recruited to teach at the institute. The institute welcomes Pitt faculty interested in a semester or yearlong sabbatical to teach in the institute.

Sichuan University will cover not only the institute’s operating costs but also faculty startup funds.

Courses will be taught in English and students will spend the first two years of the program immersed in the Pitt curriculum in China with the option of transferring to the Pittsburgh campus during their third year in the program. Students who transfer will earn a bachelor’s degree from both Sichuan University and Pitt; all students receive an institute certificate upon completion of their studies.

Groundbreaking for the Murtha Center at Pitt-Johnstown is set for Sept. 26.

The $20 million project includes construction of the 8,000-square-foot center and renovation of the 65,000-square-foot Engineering and Science Building and Krebs Hall physics laboratories.

The project is expected to earn LEED certification.

Also at UPJ, major interior renovations for biology and pre-medical sciences began on July 1. The $1.9 million project will upgrade 5,720 square feet of space in Krebs Hall, creating five new teaching and research laboratories. The lab renovation is expected to be completed in November.

Interior renovations at UPJ’s Highland Townhouses — the first renovation project identified in the campus’s 2014-2021 strategic planning document — include new appliances, furniture, lighting and windows. The University will continue to update other townhouses on campus.

A student information station has been built at UPJ’s student union. Located on the top level of the building, the station will be staffed 10 a.m.-10 p.m., providing students with expanded opportunities to purchase movie and concert tickets, pay transportation deposits and get information on campus events.

The Larkspur Lodge commuter-in-residence room at UPJ has been renovated. The common space provides commuter students with a place to study and interact with other students. The space also includes a flat-screen television and lockers.

P10-aPitt-Greensburg’s Ferguson Theater underwent major refurbishing recently. Three speakers were replaced with high quality audio speakers and the audiovisual equipment was replaced to ensure compatibility with the new audio system. Stage equipment was updated.

Over the summer, the theatre was painted and new seating, aisle carpeting and flooring were installed.

Smith Hall Lounge, located next door to the theatre, also was recarpeted.

In addition, the Chambers Hall gymnasium floor was repaired and resurfaced.

The University Library System continues to add space for student use at Hillman Library. Rooms 201 and 406 have been converted from offices to group-study spaces, as have former storage spaces in rooms 380 and 480.

The ground floor information desk area and map area, second-floor public space with tables and chairs and PhD rooms 401 and 402 also have been converted to student space.

Six movable whiteboards have been added in Hillman Library; the number of tables has been increased to 191, with new electrified tables increasing the number of available power outlets to 146.

Hillman Library also is adding mobile device charging stations on every floor. The stations hold multiple connections and can charge most standard mobile devices, including micro and mini USB connections and 30-pin and lightning connectors for Apple devices.

Pitt-Bradford opened a new 109-bed, $9.3 million residence hall this fall. The all-suite residence hall, which

Pitt-Bradford’s new all-suite residence, Rice Hall.

Pitt-Bradford’s new all-suite residence, Rice Hall.

will be named in honor of longtime supporters Lester and Barbara Rice, is the fourth such residence hall built in eight years at UPB to keep up with growing demand for on-campus housing.

Pitt-Bradford now can house 1,028 students on campus. However, demand still outstrips available residence space. For the fifth time, UPB is partnering with Best Western to house students. This fall, approximately 20 students, two upperclass student resident advisers and a live-in resident director staff member will reside at the hotel.

Several renovation projects were completed at Pitt-Titusville over the summer.

Upgrades to the Spruce Hall residence hall, based in part on responses gathered in a student satisfaction survey, included a lobby renovation in Pitt blue and gold, fresh paint and carpet with the Pitt seal. Floors and ceilings in the building’s restrooms also got a facelift.

Additional renovations included structural repairs at Bennett Davis Hall that added workspace to the building.

Campus police offices now will be stationed in this more centralized location.

The building, which houses the registrar’s office, financial aid, student accounts, the business office and human resources, was part of the original McKinney Estate.

Restrooms on the ground floor of Haskell Memorial Library received a makeover. Tile on the library’s ground floor was replaced with carpet tiles, complemented by fresh paint and new lounge furniture.

The College of General Studies and its associated units — the McCarl Center, the Office of Veterans Services and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute — have moved from the Cathedral of Learning to 1400 Posvar Hall.

The space provides improved access to University resources, CGS staff and support services and designated spaces for tutoring, quiet study and lounges. The new space opened July 21.

The McCarl Center’s move included the relocation of the limestone slab from the Cathedral’s fourth floor. The new center has a cyber-bar, plus new lighting fixtures, furniture and wood treatment to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. A new seating and study area also has been added outside of the new center.

The move frees up expansion space for English department faculty in the Cathedral of Learning. And the relocation of the McCarl Center has enabled the creation of clustered space on the fourth floor of the Cathedral of Learning for several Dietrich school interdisciplinary programs.

As part of the consolidation of Dietrich school studies programs, the fourth floor now will house cultural studies, film studies and the gender, sexuality and women’s studies programs.

The College of General Studies’ new home in 1400 Posvar Hall.

The College of General Studies’ new home in 1400 Posvar Hall.

Bruce Hall,  renovated as a  living-learning  community for  College of Business Administration  freshmen.

Bruce Hall, renovated as a living-learning community for College of Business Administration freshmen.

Bruce Hall, which will be home to the College of Business Administration freshman living-learning community, has been renovated. The project included new bathroom facilities, lighting and security, flooring, surface treatments and upgraded mechanical systems.

This living-learning community will give students the opportunity to interact with peers who are taking many of the same classes and make immediate connections with CBA faculty, advisers and fellow students.

The Lothrop Hall Fitness Center has been renovated to include LED lighting, a vinyl dance floor, updated televisions and equipment.

The Korean heritage room committee has completed its fundraising. Its nationality room, based on a 14th-century academic structure, will be built in Korea, dismantled and shipped to Pittsburgh. Construction will begin in 307 CL in May 2015.

Proposals to create Iranian and Moroccan nationality rooms have been submitted to the chancellor for approval.

Salk Pavilion, the School of Dental Medicine’s new research tower and atrium.

Salk Pavilion, the School of Dental Medicine’s new research tower and atrium.

Salk Pavilion, the new research tower and atrium for School of Dental Medicine and the School of Pharmacy, will open soon. The building, adjacent to Salk Hall, will expand the schools’ research space and includes meeting spaces, offices and an atrium/coffee shop on the first floor.

The School of Nursing’s Victoria Hall has new lockers and flooring as well as upgrades to teaching technology in the classrooms.

Further renovations to the interiors of Parran and Crabtree halls will update department offices, classrooms, conference rooms and collaborative spaces for faculty, staff and students in the Graduate School of Public Health.

Parran Hall’s state-of-the-art laboratory pavilion opened in September 2013, when the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology labs moved to the second floor.

The human genetics and epidemiology departments moved in last January.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 1