Capital projects limited mostly to infrastructure needs

aerial view of Bigelow Boulevard and beyond


Pitt’s capital budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year of $140 million is 78 percent less than the previous year, when the University was gearing up for the first phase of the Campus Master Plan.

Then COVID-19 hit and Pitt’s pandemic-related costs and lost revenue total $50 million, according to Hari Sastry, chief financial official. Pitt is now rethinking some of the assumptions made when the master plan was finalized in early 2019.

After the budget was approved by the Board of Trustees executive committee on July 15, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in the coming year the administration will “go back to our facilities planning and give ourselves the opportunity to re-question some of the assumptions that were in our plan. We may decide, some of them are still exactly what we need, and then they go back on the list. Others, we may decide can be modified or changed or the priorities or timing of some of the projects be changed.”

But for this year, with schools and other operating units dealing with a permanent 3.7 percent budget cut and 5 percent one-time cut, most major projects will be put on hold, including the planned demolition of the O’Hara Parking Garage and LRDC building to make room for a new recreation center — one of the centerpieces of the Campus Master Plan.

Most of the remaining projects are for needed renovations of infrastructure like HVAC systems, chillers, elevators and roofs.

A few major projects, some which were funded in previous budgets, will continue:

Work continuing on Bigelow Boulevard

Bigelow Boulevard and William Pitt Union grounds: The latest reports said this project, which began in August 2019, will be completed by October of this year, after construction was shut down for two months in the spring. It includes new vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic patterns, along with utility infrastructure upgrades, updated landscaping and an outdoor programming area around William Pitt Union. The work area has expanded to include sidewalk and landscaped areas near the Cathedral of Learning. Find details at

Hillman Library renovations — Phase 3: With the third and fourth floors now complete, work will move to the second floor. To prepare, the East Asian Library and African American collection have been moved to the fourth floor. Other recent moves include:

  • Latin American Reading Room materials have been moved to the Library Collections Storage Unit on Thomas Boulevard.

  • All oversize books have been moved to the Library Collections Storage Unit.

  • Call numbers A-CT and K-N have been moved to third floor

  • Journals from 2017 to present and full run of select titles (Harper’s Magazine, Life, The New Yorker) moved to third floor

The plan for the building was to complete a floor per year and then the core (which includes the elevators and bathrooms) after all the floors are finished. Much of this project has been funded by the state.

Scaife Hall addition and renovation: This major project started last year with enabling and infrastructure work along Lothrop Street. The project will demolish the west wing of Scaife Hall and replace the 70-year-old space with updated classrooms, offices and labs. The project also includes a renovated Falk Library with an entrance on Lothrop Street. Seven floors of contemporary learning spaces are planned for the addition. 

Hillside restoration and enabling project: Hillside infrastructure improvements began in November 2019 along University Avenue above Chevron Science Center to over below Panther Hall. The project paused due to construction restrictions and has now resumed, as the project is needed for essential infrastructure renovations and repairs, including power, chilled water and sewer lines. There also will be improvements to walking, biking and driving pathways.

Map showing area of hillside work

Other ongoing projects

Petersen Sports Complex: Construction resumed in May after the facility's new HVAC system arrived, a University spokesman said in June. The alternative — keeping this project on hold — would have continued to impede operations at the site, the spokesman said. The project is more than half done, and the University is working now to finalize a new completion date. 

5051 Centre Ave.: Construction resumed April 7 at this Bloomfield project being developed by Pitt and Wexford Science + Technology as a research facility. The state granted a waiver to Turner Construction Co., because the 246,000-square-foot project will be a health care facility when completed. In February, Robert Ferris, director of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, said the new building will serve as an extension to the Shadyside center, where space is limited.

Fiscal Year 2020-21 capital budget renovation projects

  • Renovations of the Neuroscience shared non-human primate facilities in the Mellon Institute

  • Integrated security upgrades

  • Upgrade residence hall locks with IT (lock piece only)

  • Upgrade fire alarm in student housing

  • Facade restoration in student housing

  • Upgrade elevator in student housing

  • Switchgear upgrades Centre Plaza

  • Replace Greensburg campus Robertshaw Hall domestic hot water boiler

  • Roof design for Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on Johnstown Campus

Fiscal Year 2020-21 preservation projects

  • General campus building facade upgrades based on code inspections

  • Barco Law School HVAC upgrades additional funds

  • Biomedical Science Tower electrical substation MTM switchgear replacement

  • Sennott Square, School of Computing and Information and Fitzgerald Field House fire alarm upgrades

  • Chevron Science Center motor control center replacement

  • Carrillo plant control system replacement

  • General campus steam vault upgrades and electrical vault upgrades

  • Victoria Hall steam and condensate feed line replacement

  • ADA upgrades

  • Frick School condensate tank overflow repairs

  • Falk School roof replacement

  • General campus sidewalk repair or replacement

  • Building steam meter upgrades

  • Building management system upgrades

  • Bradford campus water line replacement

  • Greensburg campus Cassell Hall boiler replacement

  • Greensburg campus McKenna Hall roof, building envelope and dehumidification

Previously funded renovation and preservation projects

  • Victoria Hall mechanical and electrical upgrades in labs

  • McCormick Hall chimney repair

  • Replace two chillers in Center for Bioengineering

  • Biomedical Science Tower chilled water plant replacement

  • McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine upgrade HVAC

  • Scaife Hall elevator upgrade

  • Construct chilled water intertie between Scaife Hall and BST

  • Johnstown campus repairs to Living and Learning Center

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


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