Staff picks: Hidden gems of Pitt


TPN file photo

Students at the Center for Creativity.

By The Pitt News Staff

Pitt’s campus can be a bit overwhelming at first. With so many streets, buildings and classrooms, it can be difficult to explore every nook and cranny of Pitt’s corner of Oakland. Here are some hidden gems on campus to look out for.

Center for Creativity // Elizabeth Donnelly, Senior Staff Writer

Located in the basement of the University Store on Fifth, the C4C cultivates a welcoming environment in which Pitt students can express their artistic sides. The center is not only home to a multitude of art supplies like a pottery wheel, paint and sewing machines, but to instruments, a 3D printer and computers for digital art. The center is completely free to Pitt students — with a swipe of your Pitt ID you are able to use any of the supplies that the center has to offer (and you can keep your final product).

A personal favorite of mine is the typewriter section — an elongated table beneath the stairs leading to the C4C. I love using the digital typewriters for poems and letters or to try and make typewriter art (I have yet to be successful with this, unfortunately). I also enjoy using the 3D printing pens because there are endless possibilities to what you can create with them. I made a miniature guitar with them, and even though it took a while, the end result was completely worth it. For any and all students with a passion for art, the Center for Creativity is a magical place on Pitt’s campus where self-expression and inventiveness can blossom.

Peregrine falcons // Emily Wolfe, Contributing Editor

Get yourself a nice container of Szechuan and go sit at one of the green tables by Schenley Plaza. Then wait. Okay, there. The little black shapes flying over Cathy. Those are Hope and Terzo, the peregrine falcon pair currently living in the nest outside of the 40th floor.

There have been peregrines at the top of Cathy for almost 20 years. Once endangered, the species made a major comeback over the last few decades, although every chick that hatches at the nest still gets a band attached to its leg so the state game commission can identify it as it leaves the nest and goes to make its own home somewhere else. Falcons live on cliff tops in nature, and the tall buildings and bridges in cities like Pittsburgh make great places for their nests.

Local bird-watcher Kate St. John has a great blog where you can read about the birds and their history. The best part of falcon-watching season is in the spring, when Hope will hatch and raise her chicks. It’s a good time to check in on the peregrines through the National Aviary’s nest cam, too, for the most part — watch out at the time of the actual hatching, because things can get nasty. You might be better off watching from afar.

Also, peregrines like to fly high, so if you can see its face while it’s flying, it’s not a falcon. It’s probably a pigeon, and it might be trying to steal your Szechuan.

35th and 36th floors of Cathedral // Leah Mensch, Contributing Editor 

The Cathedral of Learning has 42 floors, though most students seem to only be interested in the first and third, which are home to the nationality rooms, and the basement, where the Chick-Fil-A is located. Those who choose not to explore further than the third floor are missing out on some beautiful views. And I’m not just talking about the English department on the fifth floor.

Head up 35 flights of stairs (or just take the elevator), and you’ll find yourself in a small study space filled with stately wooden decor and windows that overlook parts of the City far past Pitt’s neighborhood of Oakland. Wave to your comrades at Carnegie Mellon University or admire the colorful exterior of the children’s hospital in Lawrenceville. It’s even a fun place to visit when you’re not studying, and just want to brag to your relatives visiting about how beautiful your city is.

Though floors 35 and 36 are technically home to the Honors College office, the space is open to all Pitt students. Make sure to bring your headphones if you need to watch a video on your laptop though, because people are not afraid to shush you.

Frick Fine Arts Building // Elizabeth Martinson, Staff Writer

One of several historic buildings at Pitt, the Frick Fine Arts Building sits near Schenley Plaza, directly across from the Cathedral of Learning, sheltered by a host of sycamores. The building was a gift to the University by Helen Clay Frick, daughter of coke and steel manufacturer Henry Clay Frick, and is named in his honor.

Often overlooked in favor of the Cathedral, its more imposing neighbor, Frick Fine Arts houses the department of history of art and architecture, the department of studio arts, the University Art Gallery and the Frick Fine Arts Library. The small, cozy study space of the library is deceptive as the collection — more than 90,000 volumes — stretches over five floors and includes comics, graphic novels and zines as well as more traditional resources such as journals and exhibition catalogues.

However, my favorite spot in the whole building is the central cloister located just behind the foyer and visible when you enter the building. It forms the heart of the building and provides an area of refuge from the busy Oakland streets. The cloister is relatively small, but filled with plants. Around it hang the works of Nicholas Lochoff, a Russian artist who created large-scale reproductions of Italian masterpieces such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” The art and architecture of the cloister combine to transport you to Renaissance Europe, taking you even further away from the urban sprawl outside the doors.