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January 11, 2018

Photos: New Year Brings New Classrooms and Learning Spaces at Posvar Hall

Students returned from winter break Jan. 8 to innovative new learning spaces at Wesley W. Posvar Hall.

As part of an ongoing $7.2 million renovation, three former auditorium-style classrooms have been transformed into lecture halls designed for interactive teaching and learning with multiple spaces nearby for outside-the-classroom study.

The trio of classrooms — 1500, 1501 and 1502 (formerly 1700) Posvar Hall — would be unrecognizable to students who sat in the dimly lit auditorium-style lecture halls just a year ago. Closed at the end of the 2017 spring term, the rooms have undergone an amazing transformation.

Natural light pours in where windows have been added facing the Forbes Quadrangle. The renovated rooms share a soft, muted color scheme reminiscent of Pitt’s official blue and gold. Carpeted entrance corridors separate the rooms from the noise of the building’s expansive main corridor. More energy-efficient mechanical systems include floor vents to deliver heating and cooling closer to occupants.

“There’s been a lot of changes in education, and, more importantly, changes in the types of skills and talents that our students need when they graduate,” Provost Patricia E. Beeson told members of the campus community during a Jan. 5 open house preview of the new spaces.

Students need more than to merely have information — it’s readily available online.

“They have an advantage by knowing how to use that information. By knowing how to find it, how to apply it to their problems, how to work in teams, how to take that knowledge and really extend it,” Beeson said. “That kind of learning doesn’t happen by someone lecturing at you for an hour or two hours or three hours. That kind of learning happens by engaging with the material, by engaging with people in the classroom.”

The new classrooms have been updated with whiteboards, video screens and the latest classroom technology. Seating — most of it moveable — has been designed to facilitate group study; attention to acoustics ensures that conversation can be heard despite the large spaces.

“They’re actually very different classrooms that are going to facilitate learning in a very different way,” the provost said.



Economics faculty member Katherine Wolfe teaches in the newly renovated 1501 Posvar Hall. Moveable seating, arranged facing a central aisle, brings students and faculty closer, making the 80-seat classroom feel smaller.

Economics faculty member Katherine Wolfe teaches in the newly renovated 1501 Posvar Hall. Moveable seating, arranged facing a central aisle, brings students and faculty closer, making the 80-seat classroom feel smaller.


Provost Beeson opening remarks in classroom

“For those of us who’ve taught in these classrooms, this design is such an improvement over what we’ve had,” said Provost Patricia E. Beeson during a Jan. 5 open house in Posvar Hall.
“These new classrooms that are more flexible – that you can move the chairs and move the tables – are really going to allow us to be even more innovative in the classroom and really approach teaching in a different way.”


View of classroom in Posvar Hall from the hallway

The redesigned 1500 Posvar Hall classroom features fixed seats that can be turned to allow students to work with others nearby.


exterior view of new classroom with windows and wood at Posvar Hall

New windows and wood accents soften the exterior of the 1978 Brutalist-style structure.


Study room

An outside-the-classroom learning environment adjoining the classrooms provides an informal space for individual or collaborative study.


New classroom in Posvar Hall

Formerly 1700 Posvar Hall, the classroom now known as 1502 Posvar features flexible seating for 96 students and a view of Hillman Library and the Cathedral of Learning.


Classroom in Posvar Hall before the renovation.

1700 Posvar Hall, pre-renovation. “When you look at the results it’s really quite remarkable that you’ve been able to break out the windows here, offer more study spaces for the students and really soften the Brutalist architecture of this building in a way that makes it much more conducive to learning,” said Provost Patricia E. Beeson of the multi-room renovation at Posvar Hall.


Updated corridor study space

New study spaces have been added along Posvar Hall’s main corridor.


Posvar Hall's main corridor, before renovations.

Posvar Hall’s main corridor, before renovations.


Mechanical space in Posvar Hall

Leveling the classroom floors across much of the 12,600-square-foot renovation freed mechanical space below the steeply tiered lecture halls.


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