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September 14, 2017

Enhanced Experiences Are at the Center of Campus Facilities Projects

New labs; new homes for centers, departments and clinics; and updated classrooms and infrastructure are some of the campus improvements that greeted staff, faculty and students this term.

Facilities Management’s team of about 500 employees worked this summer to ready the campus for the new academic year. Projects included upgrading facilities to boost student performance, improve instruction and enhance the campus environment.

Working with contract partners, Pitt’s construction managers and commissioning experts completed more than 40 projects this summer, said Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management.

Some of the most noticeable work among these projects includes the following:

School of Nursing

The patient simulators at Pitt’s School of Nursing — life-size mannequins with realistic anatomy — will have more beds to rest their heads, and nurses-in-training will benefit from a more tech-wired learning experience this fall.

The Skills and Simulation Center has been expanded and updated to create mock hospital and private practice areas, part of an upgrade to the School of Nursing’s home in Victoria Hall.

Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, dean of the School of Nursing, said the upgrades will provide students with “state-of-the-art opportunities right here in Victoria Hall, even before going out into community and hospital settings for their clinical hours.”

“We’re glad to be able to give them these experiences to prepare them for their practice as professional nurses,” she added.

Skills and Simulation Center at the School of Nursing

New hospital beds await mannequin patients in the newly renovated Skills and Simulation Center at the School of Nursing. The expanded lab will provide students with state-of-the-art opportunities in Victoria Hall before they enter the community and hospital settings.

The suite includes an 18-bed skills learning area, two simulation rooms, a recording studio/simulation center and a lab dedicated to telehealth, which encompasses such practices as delivering health care and health information through videoconferencing or other telecommunications systems. It also has a multipurpose learning center that can serve as a conference room, a classroom or a gathering center.

“In the skills lab, the technology is top of the line,” said Karen Sellitto, Skills and Simulation Center coordinator.

The center uses computerized mannequins to simulate adult, geriatric and pediatric patients on hospital bedside units and exam tables.

“The faculty will be able to demonstrate a skill at one hospital bed. It will be broadcast simultaneously to the monitors at each of the hospital bedsides, where the students will be able to see the skill and practice it as if they are doing it on a patient,” Sellitto said.

The new spaces in Victoria Hall were designed to reflect trends in care delivery as well as the increasingly technical needs of clinical care, allowing students to encounter situations as they would in a real-world setting, Dunbar-Jacob said.

“It’s a phenomenal change worthy of a top-ranked School of Nursing,” said Bernotas. Pitt’s School of Nursing’s graduate programs are ranked among the top 10 in the country in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition.

Barco Law Building

The School of Law’s first floor has been updated as part of renovations at the Barco Law Building.

Lobby of Barco Law Building

A new lobby in the Barco Law Building is among the renovations underway for Pitt Law.

Administrative offices have moved to the fourth floor while renovations continue on the second-floor suite. The ongoing project includes updates to finishes and flooring and classroom improvements on the first, second and fourth floors.

Significantly, the renovation creates space for the law clinics that are now housed in Sennott Square. Relocating the legal clinics to the main Barco Law Building, set for later this academic year, both substantively and symbolically brings theory, doctrine and practice closer in Pitt Law’s educational program, school officials said.

Scaife Hall

Behind the plywood and temporary walls at the Terrace Street entrance, construction continues at the School of Medicine.

Slated for completion in January is a project that will renovate the fourth- and fifth-floor lobbies and entrance at Scaife Hall, home to the medical school.

The narrow escalators on the lower floors are being replaced with stairs and a new student collaboration space.

Hillman Library

Hillman Library’s fourth floor is closed until fall 2018, and books are being moved to storage from the library’s first and third floors as the first phase of library renovations continues.

The project includes upgrades to the electrical, fire protection, mechanical and plumbing systems as well as modifications to the elevator and stair systems, restrooms and shelving.

Stay updated on the Hillman Library reinvention project here.

Cathedral of Learning

The Cathedral of Learning “restacking” project, which aims to cluster similar departments together as offices are modernized, continues.

A renovation of the 14th floor has created a new home for the Department of Communication.

The 24th and 25th floors are now home to the Office of General Counsel and the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security.

Wesley W. Posvar Hall

The Center for Urban Education is housed in a new suite on the fourth floor. The project included renovation as well as the relocation of a science lab and reorganization of School of Education offices.

Center for Urban Education in Posvar Hall

A new suite on the fourth floor of Posvar Hall houses the School of Education’s Center for Urban Education.

Under construction and on track for completion in time for the spring term are modernized classrooms on the first floor. The project will replace the trio of windowless auditorium-style classrooms with quieter, accessible spaces equipped with the latest teaching technology. Two of the classrooms will feature flexible seating arrangements.

The renovation also will create new student study space, Facilities’ Bernotas said.

The addition of windows and wood accents facing the Forbes Quadrangle will soften the exterior appearance of the 1978 Brutalist-style concrete and limestone building.

Inside, brick railings above the galleria are being replaced with glass partitions to further lighten and brighten the interior.

Other projects in Posvar Hall include:

Parran Hall

A new cafe featuring coffee and grab-and-go foods has opened in Parran Hall, home of the Graduate School of Public Health. The multiyear renovations to Parran Hall will wrap up in December, Bernotas said.

Crawford Hall

The first-floor Anatomy and Physiology Lab is being renovated and expanded.

Frick Fine Arts Building

New finishes will allow for new displays in the rotunda. Lighting and a ceiling grid system have been added in the gallery, and the first-floor restroom has been upgraded.

Cost Sports Center

An update to the Cost Sports Center, including new lighting and turf on its indoor athletic fields, will be completed in October.

Sutherland Hall

The Quick Zone grab-and-go food service area and computer labs in Sutherland Hall have been updated as part of improvements to the upper-campus residence hall.

Ruskin Hall

The exterior of Ruskin Hall has been power-washed and repointed, and window lintels have been replaced.

Litchfield Towers

The roof has been replaced on Tower B.



Facilities Management’s trades and grounds teams have widened the sidewalk and improved landscaping along Fifth Avenue near the Cathedral of Learning. They’ve also added new stairs and landscaping along the pedestrian corridor between the OC Lot and Trees Hall fields.

Greenery outside Trees Hall

New greenery lines the walkway outside Trees Hall.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is building a new bus shelter along Fifth Avenue at Atwood Street. It will feature benches, leaning rails, two ConnectCard machines, additional room for wheelchairs and lighting.

The inbound bus stop at Fifth and Atwood is moved to Fifth and DeSoto Street — one stop preceding Atwood — until Oct. 31, and the project is expected to be completed later this academic year, according to the Port Authority.


Regional Campuses


A 178-bed residence hall is under construction and the KOA Dining Hall in the Frame-Westerberg Commons is being expanded to accommodate Pitt–Bradford’s growing student population.

Aging townhouse-style student housing was demolished to make way for the new building, which will result in a net gain of 38 beds in fall 2018.

The dining hall project will add 69 seats and nearly 3,000 square feet to the food production, food storage and dishwashing areas.

The projects are among more than a dozen undertaken in a construction and renovation phase on Pitt’s northernmost regional campus.


Pitt–Johnstown’s Blackington Hall has received upgrades that include renovations to the lobby to create a grand stairway to campus administration offices, updated auditorium lighting and carpeting, and new climate controls.


Keep up with construction on and around the Pittsburgh campus using Facilities Management’s interactive map.


Kimberly K. Barlow,, 412-624-1379
Kevin Zwick,, 412-624-0148

Filed under: Feature,Volume 50 Issue 2

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