Welcome Back: Nordenberg Hall hopefully the beginning of campuswide changes


By Stephen Suss / Columnist

The newly built Nordenberg Hall will forever commemorate Pitt’s soon-to-retire chancellor’s legacy, but this honor might go down as the least significant of Mark Nordenberg’s many achievements.

That being said, Nordenberg Hall will be a freshman dormitory more elaborate than any that preceded it and will hopefully signal further changes in student living conditions. The question is, does this new residence hall mark the genesis of a Pitt that offers more and more amenities to its students, or is this new building a unique creation?

Unlike Nordenberg Hall, many of the freshman dorms on Pitt’s campus are old, and with their significant age come some issues. For instance, central air is something many students yearned for in their first year living in dorms such as Lothrop and Holland. Considering Pittsburgh’s dramatic seasonal changes in temperature, students were often left either freezing cold or sweltering hot while living in these halls.

 In addition, Lothrop in particular was also known for being dark and gloomy all year round, despite the weather outside. However, these residence halls and their stark features serve as a sort of rite of passage, with the promise of better living conditions, such as Bouquet Gardens, in the future.

Although the nicer and newer sophomore dorms have the amenities and ambiance that students missed their freshman year, several of these dorms, such as Pennsylvania and Panther halls on the hill, came with the cost of being far from central campus and classes and, well, on a hill.

Nordenberg Hall, in this sense, will even have advantages when compared to sophomore dorms. Like its modern counterparts, it’s  new and has central air, but it’s also conveniently located near the Cathedral and most freshman classes. Students will also have flat-screen TVs provided in their room, something unheard of in previous dorms aside from the newest additions to the Bouquet Gardens complex. In addition, the hall will feature a fitness center, a rec room and an outdoor patio. 

Although many of these features were available to freshmen before, they were never as easily accessible as they will be to the students living in Nordenberg. Pitt has been rising in the ranks academically under the leadership of Chancellor Nordenberg, and his residence hall might signal an important shift in the University’s layout to reflect and add to the strides that have already been made.

Land has always been scarce in Oakland, and as the University has grown it has had to expand in the little space that it could. Forbes Field is what later became Posvar Hall. When the University converted Pitt Stadium to the Petersen Events Center, Pitt’s football team began playing in the Steelers’ Three Rivers Stadium. Where Towers once hosted graduate students, it is now home to mostly freshmen who often move on to converted houses in South Oakland, which once housed immigrant families.

As it’s been, there are few buildings at the University that have not been built over something. Likewise, Nordenberg Hall will replace the old University Place