Swanson School Engineers a Recycling Plan as Part of Name Change

Issue Date: 
February 4, 2008

What’s in a name? For Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, the answer is a lot of extra paper.

The school donned a new name in December in honor of a $41.3 million gift from engineering alumnus and Pitt trustee John A. Swanson, the most generous individual donor in the University’s history. Now, as the Swanson School stocks up on stationery featuring its new name, offices and departments no longer need the envelopes, business cards, and other paper products with the old moniker.

But instead of those jettisoned cards and letterhead heading for the trash heap, the School’s Mascaro Sustainability Initiative (MSI) will collect them. As Pitt’s center for green engineering and design, MSI will use the old stationery to create building products for the two-story addition to Benedum Hall slated to begin construction later this year. The extension will connect Benedum Hall tower to the auditorium and serve, along with the tower’s second floor, as MSI’s new home.

Engineering students in the ENGR 1610 Product Realization Global Opportunity course are currently exploring ideas for the collected paper, but the concept is not new to MSI. The center’s current offices features countertops and ceiling and floor tiles that are at least 50 percent recycled paper.

MSI students will collect discarded stationery in the morning during the first week of February and March by the following schedule:

  • Administrative offices: Feb. 4 and March 3
  • Bioengineering: Feb. 4 and March 3
  • Chemical and Petroleum Engineering: Feb. 5 and March 4
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: Feb. 6 and March 5
  • Computer Engineering: Feb. 7 and March 6
  • Electrical Engineering: Feb. 7 and March 6
  • Industrial Engineering: Feb. 8 and March 7
  • Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science: Feb. 8 and March 7

Fittingly, Swanson’s gift will partly support the construction project for which the discarded stationery is destined. For the overall project, the University is committing approximately $60 million and an additional $30 million will be raised in private support.

The two-phase transformation of Benedum Hall begins this spring with the construction of the building that will connect the tower to the auditorium and also will house MSI’s new offices. Then, work will start in the summer on converting the auditorium’s current 500-seat open space into five individual classrooms.

Later this year, a new mezzanine will be constructed in the tower’s sub-basement level, creating an entirely new floor. By early 2009, construction will begin on the complete restructuring of the tower’s basement level into a Lower Plaza Level with 10 new classrooms, a new home for the Bevier Engineering Library, a café, offices for student organizations and clubs, and a 3,600-square-foot student computer lab.

In mid-2009, the first floor of Benedum Hall tower will be transformed into the school’s new administrative center, housing the dean’s office, freshman programs, academic affairs, and the offices of diversity, research, and development and alumni relations. By early 2010, work will begin on restructuring the fourth and fifth floors, with one becoming a complex of research labs and offices for bioengineering research, and the other for nanoengineering.

The second phase, to commence after 2010, involves the renovation of the tower floors six through 12, which house the Swanson School’s academic departments.

For questions about the recycling plan, contact Kim Wisniewski in the MSI office at 412-624-6718 or kaw54@pitt.edu.