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College Spotlight: U Pittsburgh

Jan 11, 2023

This 42 story Cathedral of Learning is the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere. Learn which university stopped me dead in my tracks. 

I am so excited to share the  University of Pittsburgh @Pitttweet with you. I must admit – I was on my way to another institution and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw what could only be the building known as the Cathedral of Learning. This 42 story Cathedral of Learning is the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere. Zachary – whom I met in Pittsburgh told me that was his favorite spot when he was a student there.  

First, a few facts about University of Pittsburgh:

UP was Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787.

U Pitt is a large public institution, home to over 26K undergraduate students with an additional over 9K graduate students.

Now the good stuff! Here are THREE things I want you to know about the Cathedral of Learning, found at the center of the University of Pittsburgh. 

FIRST – The History 

According to Wikipedia - In 1921, John Gabbert Bowman became the tenth chancellor of the university. He then began to envision a "tall building", that would provide a dramatic symbol of education for the city and add much needed space in order to meet present and future needs of the university.

As with most big dreams and visions, the plans for the Cathedral received strong resistance from the community and from some university officials, who felt it was too tall for the city. But that would not stop Bowman and construction began in 1926.  

Standing at 535 feet (163 m),[9] the 42-story Late Gothic Revival Cathedral is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere and the second tallest university building in the world.[10] 

Overlaid with Indiana limestone and contains more than 2,000 rooms and windows. It functions as a primary classroom and administrative center of the university. And from what I could see this is a hub for students to study in a quiet and beautiful space. 

SECOND –  I want to tell you about The Nationality Rooms found in the Cathedral of Learning

What I love about the history of these rooms is the galvanizing of community members. Again, Chancellor Bowman had great vision and forethought to involve the communities of the people of Pittsburgh. Genius to involve thy neighbor and have them feel ownership in their local university. 

Bowman decided that he wanted to involve the neighbors as much as he could in constructing the Cathedral, so he proposed that each nationality be allowed to design their nationality's room for the Cathedral. Each Committee was responsible for all fundraising, designing, and acquisition. 

Some Nationalities included are: Korean, Norwegian, Ukrainian, African, Greek, Italian, – and so many more. 

THIRD – Beauty, peace, and that fantastic low lighting in the Cathedral!

I had 10 minutes on my meter and I popped out of my car to take a quick photo. As I walked up, my 5 foot frame seemed so small and insignificant next to this awe inspiring building. The bright yellow tulips made me smile as I walked up the stairs to enter something I have only seen in European cathedrals. The rush of my footsteps was immediately halted as I entered what I can only describe as a church of learning. I became a child gripping my mother's hand as we walked down the center aisle to find a pew to sit down. I almost reached for the holy water to bless myself as I walked in. Pews, replaced with wooden tables and chairs. Bibles and songbooks replaced with academic books and laptops. What remained was the incredibly high arched ceilings and a rod iron decorative gate that led to another section of learning. The perimeter of this monochromatic and what seems highly uncomfortable study lounge was the Nationality rooms. These are classrooms disguised as mini prayer rooms – the stained glass is an unmistakable reminder that you are in the cathedral of learning. 

Beauty, quiet, peace, and calm rule the day in this amazing building. 

Wow – I only wish I had more time on my meter. This was an unexpected gem to find on my trip to Pittsburgh. So glad I stopped. This is a must see for any family.

HUGE Shout Out to the students who were studying in the Cathedral of learning – who indulged me as I took photos and short videos like a crazy tourist. 

You can learn more about the University of Pittsburgh a

- I think you’ll be amazed like I was. 

Thank you for stopping here to learn more about U Pitt, please share this blog and/or the original video with friends. 

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