Six on-campus construction projects to know about this fall


Image via University of Pittsburgh Master Plan

Proposal for Bigelow Boulevard.

By Bella Markovitz, Staff Writer

For any new or returning students, it’s always helpful to know what is going on and what changes to look out for on campus.

Pitt has an expansive campus and an abundance of buildings and resources already available and in use, so it may surprise new students to learn just how much development is in the works in Oakland. The Campus Master Plan has the 20-30 year road map, so here are the highlights of some of the projects currently underway.

Here are six recent and ongoing construction projects on campus to know about:

1. Hillman Library

Great news for all the library lovers — the newly renovated first and second floors of Hillman will be opening in January according to Jeffrey Wisniewski, Hillman’s director of communications and web services.

The renovations began in July 2021 and will be completed this fall. Once the floors open, students can look forward to several new amenities.

The newly renovated floors will include a large, open area with movable furniture, allowing seats to be rearranged for events. 

Along with this study area, the renovations have added an accessible Forbes Avenue entrance ramp, an indoor/outdoor café and an expanded Open Lab.

Wisniewski shared the next steps of the library’s reinvention plans, which will end in 2024.

“The final phase is scheduled to start in late January 2023 and end in the spring of 2024,” Wisniewski said. 

He said the final phase will add a third floor patio deck for events, 18 reservable rooms for group study, a new space and lab for the Digital Scholarship Commons, a media lab with editing rooms, a video studio and more.

2. Cathedral of Learning

The Cathedral’s main entrance and plaza are closed for the entire summer while maintenance crews work to keep the historic building in good condition. Senior Facilities Manager Dante Bongiorni said along with refurbishing the stone façade, they are also waterproofing the deck to prevent leaks to the ground floor and improve drainage. Though there likely won’t be any visual differences, this maintenance aids in the preservation and upkeep of the Cathedral.

This project comes after last summer’s renovations to the Cathedral’s ground floor bathrooms and HVAC upgrades. All of these renovations are part of the larger $6 million Department of General Services project, funded by the state, according to a spokesperson for Bongiorni.

Proposed view looking north from south campus hub.

3. New Campus Recreation and Wellness Center

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Campus Recreation and Wellness Center is scheduled for Sept. 29, 2022. Janine Fisher, director of marketing and communications, said the ceremony will take place before construction begins.

“This ceremony will be student centered along with University staff and administrators. This will be our official ‘launch celebration’ as the bulk of the construction gets underway,” Fisher said.

In one of the videos recently uploaded to the campus recreation page, Zak Klaczak, a junior sports management and marketing major, listed some of the features included in this new recreation center. 

“An esports lounge, counseling center and yoga studio all in one place. It’s gonna be a really good time for the students and really great for the university overall,” Klaczak said.

The new recreation center is also slated to provide an indoor track, a stress-free zone, a new gym and a pool.

To pay for the new facility, which is scheduled to open in 2025, the mandatory wellness fee for full-time students on the Pittsburgh campus will increase by $50 for the 2022-23 school year. The fee will then increase by another $50 for the 2023-24 school year.

4. Victory Heights Arena and Sports Performance Center

Construction of this new arena will soon begin on the right side of the Petersen Events Center.

David DeJong, senior vice chancellor for business and operation, told the University Times that the arena project is “well down the road of design” after being delayed by the pandemic.

This arena and performance center is just one part of Pitt Athletics’ ambitious ‘Victory Heights’ project. So far the first part of the project has been completed, which was the third floor addition to the Petersen Sports Complex in Mar. 2021. Along with the new arena and performance center are plans to build an indoor track & field and band complex. A timeline of the project is available on the Hail to Pitt website.

5. Scaife Hall

Attention all medical students! The new west wing of Scaife Hall, the home to Pitt’s School of Medicine, opens this July. New renovations on the original building are scheduled to begin at the same time.

The new 110,000-square-foot addition, according to the University Times, will include a Lothrop Street entrance, a renovated Falk Library, a café with both indoor and outdoor seating, private study spaces and a new gross anatomy lab with virtual reality equipment.

Meanwhile, the current renovations will update the labs, study spaces and lecture halls into designs meant to encourage team-based learning and interaction between students.

6. Schenley Café in the William Pitt Union

Since the café is usually closed during the summer months anyway, these renovations aren’t interrupting any business hours. Julie Bannister, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Auxiliary Services, said these are only back-of-house kitchen renovations, so students will likely not notice any changes upon the reopening of the café in the fall.

These renovations are intended to support the catering operations that the Pitt Catering Company provides to various events on and around campus such as graduations, sporting events, office events, weddings and more.

Like the Cathedral Plaza project, these renovations will be completed before students arrive for the fall semester.