A Pollution-Killing Roof, Cozier Study Spaces, and a Shorter Wait for Cathedral Elevators

Issue Date: 
August 18, 2014

ALawrence Hall pollution-eating roof, new classrooms in Lawrence Hall, a new home for the College of General Studies, and the first major overhaul of the Cathedral of Learning’s elevators are just a few of the changes that await faculty and students this fall.

The $10 million upgrade of the Cathedral elevators will be the project that impacts the most people on campus. The 43-story Cathedral’s eight elevators were installed in 1931. The new system will use a more efficient destination-based dispatch system that will be faster and will save energy costs. In addition, 37 inactive elevator doors on various floors will be reopened to improve access and efficiency.

Work has already begun, and riders may have noticed a smoother ride on some elevators because of car-rail realignments. The most noticeable change will occur in early December, as two cars at a time—one serving the upper floors, the other, the lower levels—will be shut down for major renovations, including cab replacement. Students, faculty, and staff who attend classes or work in the Cathedral can stay abreast of the changes via new accounts on Twitter (@CathedralElev) and Facebook (University of Pittsburgh Cathedral Elevator Modernization), which Pitt’s Facilities Management Department will update regularly. The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2016.

College of General Studies Moves to Posvar
ThirtyPosvar Hall staff members from the College of General Studies, along with the McCarl Center for Nontraditional Student Success, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Office of Veterans Services moved in July from the Cathedral of Learning to 1400 Posvar Hall. The new offices— with better parking options and designated study and tutoring areas—will help staffers to better meet the needs of Pitt’s nontraditional students.

“Our space in the new College of General Studies is bright, welcoming, and very convenient for our Osher members,” said Jennifer Engel, Osher director. “Hundreds of our members have stopped by already, and they are so appreciative and happy with the new space. We look forward to the fall to welcome all of our members, along with all of the students in CGS.” 

Lawrence Hall Changes
Passersby on Forbes Avenue might note the gaping hole in the side of Lawrence Hall where there was once a large auditorium. Part of a $7 million renovation, the construction will create more classrooms and study areas with better studying environments.

The project’s first phase is complete, including a new second-floor mezzanine with three small classrooms and a renovated lobby that will feature small-group seating areas to facilitate student interaction. Additionally, the stairwells have been redesigned to improve traffic flow, the basement restrooms expanded, and the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting systems upgraded.

The project’s final phase—converting the main auditorium into two lecture halls with seating for 332 and 571 students—will be completed in June 2015. The change to two smaller lecture halls will improve acoustics and improve professor-student interaction during classes.

New Posvar Roof to “Eat” Pollution
One of the most innovative changes on campus won’t be seen by most people, but the experiment could have a significant impact on quality of life.

The new roof being installed on Posvar Hall is embedded with a mineral that, when combined with the sun’s rays, breaks up nitrogen oxide in the air into nontoxic chemicals that will wash away with rain. The roof’s life expectancy is more than 20 years, similar to conventional roofs, and its nitrogen-oxide-breaking capability is estimated to offset the emissions of more than 200 automobiles annually, according to Dan Marcinko, Pitt sustainability coordinator. While the roof is a first for Pitt, if the material proves reliable, Pitt could consider this environmentally friendly alternative for future roofing projects.