Students react to Schenley Quad renovations

Sketch of planned updates to Schenley Quadrangle. (Image courtesy of Deborah Todd)

Renovations will add more public space to Schenley Quadrangle this summer, but some students are concerned that the change will come at the expense of precious parking spots.

The week before spring break, Pitt sent out an email to students notifying them of preparations for renovations in Schenley Quad. The full renovations will take place over the summer and transform what are now parking spaces into an open recreational space for students to study, relax and enjoy the outdoors.

The renovation will add trees and a grass area to sit in, along with benches and a raised platform that can be used for performances or as a gathering area. There are no visible parking spots in the renderings of the new space.

The University gained support for this project through answers it received on Master Plan forums, where students, faculty and staff spoke with architects about the future of Pitt’s campus. Pitt also sent it to students to see what the University could most improve upon, according to Deborah Todd, a University spokesperson. She said they “had a hunch” students would want more green space, and surveys confirmed that.

“The master plan process showed that the student body was yearning for more outdoor spaces, and renovations of Schenley Quad will serve that demand,” Todd said.

The University plans to begin the renovations May 1, with the goal of completing the project by the fall of 2018, Todd said. The quad changes will cost about $5 million, part of a $10 million project approved in November that will also repair the Schenley garage.

Most students who answered the survey requested more open space on campus, according to the University. But not all students share this feeling.

Renovations to the Schenley Quadrangle will result in the removal of the currently available parking. (Photo by Thomas Yang | Visual Editor)

Annie Herbster, a junior pharmacy major and a member of the Theta Phi Alpha sorority, expressed her discontent with the project. She said the added green space was less important than parking spaces.

“I think we have plenty of greenspace to take advantage of,” Herbster said. “I think parking is as big a demand for students here as green space.”

Maria Wallace, a first-year double major in anthropology and biology, shared a similar concern about the planned loss of parking. Although she does not have a car on campus, the parking spaces are a luxury and convenience when her family comes to visit campus.

“I think it’s very unfortunate,” Wallace said. “When my family comes, that is where we park. Sometimes you don’t even have to pay.”

Other students who do not have cars on campus may not be as affected by the renovations, but some showed concern over whether the lack of parking will have an effect on the ability for students to call ride services, such as Uber or Lyft.

Shelby Denton, a first-year finance major, does not own a car and often finds herself reaching for her phone to call a ride service whenever she needs to get around the city.

“I don’t have a car, so I use Uber,” Denton said. “They won’t really have a space to pull off.”

Herbster also expressed concern about maintaining handicap accessibility in the new quad. But the University has made sure to keep these accommodations, as shown in renderings of the Quad created by WTW Architects. The Quad will have a new handicap access way, which will lead to the patio outside of Litchfield Towers like the current one does.

Despite their concerns, students still appreciated the University’s efforts to create more green space for student recreation. Denton said Pitt could keep parking in some of the Quad, while still adding some green space.

“I think it would be cool to have a little bit of green space,” Denton said.

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