Bigelow Boulevard work and closing set to begin Nov. 1

Rendering of new WPU entry


Work should begin Nov. 1 on the transformation of Bigelow Boulevard between Fifth and Forbes avenues, after the Board of Trustees Property and Facilities Committee approved the $23.7 million project on June 27.

The project will mean that the block of Bigelow between William Pitt Union and the Cathedral of Learning will be closed to traffic from Nov. 1 of this year until Aug. 1, 2020, according to Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for business and operations who presented the plans to the committee. Pedestrians also won’t be able to cross mid-block but will be able to go across at each end of the block.

“There’s a tremendous amount of utility work that needs to occur before we fix the road and do the stuff on the top,” Scott said.

The work on top will include reconfigured traffic lanes, improved bike lanes and a safer, more efficient central crosswalk.

In a news release, Mavis Rainey, executive director of the Oakland Transportation Management Association, said, “The planned multimodal improvements will enhance the safety of the street, making it more accommodating for all users, including those needing accessible parking for shuttle and individual pick-ups and drop-offs.”

The Bigelow Boulevard project, which is part of Pitt’s Master Plan, also will include redoing the driveway area in front of William Pitt Union. Scott said the driveway will be removed and a hardscaped and landscaped event space with more seating will replace it. A drop-off area will be created on Bigelow.

 “That’s really intended to improve the student experience and create program space in that area,” Scott said. “It will be a great gathering space for students and really give it a union-type feel just outside. It will be a great connection to the work that’s already happened on Schenley Quad.”

Bigelow project updates will be provided via a new website.

Other projects approved

The committee also approved three other construction projects and two new leases:

  • New wing on Scaife Hall: The $120 million project, the first phase of a complete modernization of Scaife Hall, includes demolition of the existing auditorium on the corner of Terrace and Lothrop Streets; construction of a new 600-seat lecture auditorium; new classrooms; teaching laboratories; a simulation center; and a new gross anatomy laboratory. Scott said the initial demolition should start this fall. The first phase of the project will run through December 2021.
  • Starzl Biomedical Science Tower Cooling Tower: The existing 10,000-ton cooling tower will be replaced with a new unit with an expected capacity of 15,000 tons, at a projected cost of $5.5 million.
  • Renovation of the Living-Learning Center at Pitt–Johnstown: The work will repair heating and ventilation systems, update bathrooms and rooms and upgrade electrical, lighting, wi-fi and data systems. It’s expected to cost $11 million and will occur in multiple phases between July 2019 and January 2021.
  • Lease of Pittsburgh Athletic Association building space: The University plans to begin leasing 30,199 square feet of space on the fifth and sixth floors in the former PAA on Fifth Avenue starting June 1, 2020 from building owner LVA4. The lease is for 15 years at an annual rent of $1.2 million and will include University-funded improvements costing $1.4 million. It will house the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) for approximately five years. The LRDC is relocating as part of the Campus Master Plan, which places the planned Recreation and Wellness Center on the site of LRDC’s current location on O’Hara Street.
  • Lease of Riviera Building space: The 15-year lease with Burns Scalo Brokerage is for 12,408 square feet of space in the building at 350 Technology Drive, along the Monongahela River in South Oakland. The lease, which will begin on Jan. 1, 2020, is for $645,216 annually and will include University-funded improvements costing $8.8 million. The space will allow for the expansion of the School of Medicine’s Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory, which plays a crucial role in supporting immunotherapy trials at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.