Pittsburgh - Tampa

Cathedral of Learning

  • Cathedral of Learning

About the Project

The Cathedral of Learning, a local and national landmark, is the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus. The 42-story building stands 535 feet and is the tallest educational building in the western hemisphere and the second tallest educational structure in the world.

The main part of the Cathedral is the Commons room, a gothic-style hall that covers a half-acre and is four stories tall. This space was a gift of financier Andrew Mellon. The first and third floors are home to 26 Nationality Rooms, each depicted in décor and detail of the country for which they are named. These rooms also serve as classrooms.

The interior signage replacement program required a particular sensitivity to the architecture, history and the materials found in the cathedral. Room signage is fabricated out of smooth-finished black Maine slate with a gold leaf etched border, raised letters and Braille for ADA compliance and wrought iron accents reminiscent of the ironwork found on the doors and railings. This original iron detailing was designed by Samuel Yellin, who was responsible for the revival of decorative ironwork in the 20’s and 30’s until his death.

A variety of sign types were required to label spaces and direct visitors and students throughout the building. These included room identification, directional signs, departmental, classroom, nationality room identification and interactive touch-screen elevator directories. The new signage program replaced numerous signs that had evolved over the years leaving the limestone corridors cluttered and inconsistent in the labeling of spaces.

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