Staff Picks: The best buildings on campus

By The Pitt News Staff

Sure, the Cathedral of Learning is beautiful — we’re not denying that. But here at The Pitt News, we know campus has so much more to offer its students than the same old boring, Gothic castles. From Brutalist beauties to floor plans that make going to class an adventure in and of itself, here are the buildings that we’ve missed while we’ve been away — and that you should probably know about before coming to Pitt.

Posvar Hall // Charlie Taylor, Culture Editor

It’s 10:20 a.m. and you’re running late. You need to track down your anthropology TA during office hours, which end in 10 minutes. You turn onto Schenley Drive, a side street just off Forbes Avenue near the Cathedral of Learning. There she is — William Wesley Posvar Hall. Or just Posvar, if you know her well.

She stands as a square concrete behemoth with rows of sad-looking, tinted windows. To enter through the main entrance, you have to pass through a covered porch supported by massive rectangular pillars of concrete, reminding you of the sheer weight of the structure, both physically and on your conscience.

Once you’re inside, good luck finding your TA’s office, or anything else besides Einstein’s Bagels — which is, thankfully, pretty hard to miss. I have a theory that it’s impossible to walk in a straight line in Posvar, which is probably why instead of finding my classes, I always end up doing laps. Some escalators can take you to some rooms, others can’t and finding your class feels like being 13 and trying to find the Hot Topic at a mall in an unfamiliar town. It’s certainly a feeling I haven’t been able to get while at home.

Information Sciences Building // Lucas DiBlasi, For The Pitt News

If you want to take classes in a building that flouts the convention that buildings should look “nice” or “pleasing to the eye,” the Information Sciences Building is the one for you. Standing as a monument to cold, calculating efficiency, it’s located at the northernmost edge of Pitt’s campus. Unless you live in North Oakland, just getting to class in this building will be an odyssey. But that’s just what the clean, steadfast lines of the building’s exterior would expect from you — the perseverance of an ox in the body of a tired college student.

The Information Sciences Building looks like a small mix between Posvar Hall and Hillman Library, featuring plenty of bare-concrete cubes, trapezoids and other forbidding geometric figures. Built in the Brutalist style, it does not care about your preference for Gothic arches and Corinthian pilasters, but instead stands tall with its barren, concrete self-respect. It is not beautiful in the conventional way, but contains its own unique, minimalist charm all the same.

Just to behold the Information Sciences Building is an act of will, but to take classes inside shows the true strength of one’s character — it’s home to classrooms where the principles of computer science are taught to the next generation of illustrious coders. It is truly an honor for any Pitt student to take a class in this shining testament to humanity’s unwillingness to accept defeat.

Benedum Hall // Maggie Young, Contributing Editor

Rumors of the better Einstein’s may inspire you to make the trek up Thackeray Avenue to Benedum Hall. Let it be known that the rumors are true — the egg beaters here far supersede the ones at Posvar — but Benedum will suck the life out of you. There are no windows, leaving you without views of the outside world to get through your mythology lecture. Worse yet, the building designers thought it lovely to add lime green accent walls to complement the windowless slabs of gray, with everything cast in a brutal LED glow. It’s a migraine waiting to happen.

Beyond the drab color scheme, the vibes of the building will totally bring you down. Even getting to class will mentally exhaust you, because you always feel like you need to be doing something. Checking Twitter waiting for the lecture before yours to end seems like a waste of time while the kids next to you take the integral of infinity or whatever. Whether it’s the high GPA that got them into their program or the notoriously difficult classes they take, engineers still scare me. All in all, Benedum isn’t an ideal place for someone in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences to make themselves at home.

If you are in Swanson, forget I said anything. This place is a dream.

Sennott Square // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

This is a Pitt building? How can this be a Pitt building? It doesn’t look like one. It’s past Litchfield Towers on Forbes Avenue, and the entrance is hidden away on a side street. Sennott Square isn’t hiding from anything, but it sure is hard to find. The architects of this building must be laughing at the labyrinth they built inside, and the poor students who lose themselves in it.

Infamously known as the home of Pitt’s psychology department and business school, Sennott is an actual maze. The elevators bring you up to the center of the floor and from there on branch out into two hallways of endless twists and turns, complete with eerily low lighting to oh-so-helpfully guide your way. The rooms are definitely not numbered in order. You’re looking for room 515 for your Intro to Psychology study? Well, you just passed room 514 but next up it’s room 512. So you turn around to retrace your steps but now it’s room 202. You turn around again to see room 2324. It’s taunting you. Does Pitt have its own personal Greek labyrinth? Well, if you can make it out of Sennott Square, I’d advise you to look out for man-eating Minotaurs.