Wesley W. Posvar Hall

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Coordinates: 40°26′30″N 79°57′14″W / 40.441648°N 79.953792°W / 40.441648; -79.953792

Wesley W. Posvar Hall seen from Schenley Plaza in Apr, 2007

Wesley W. Posvar Hall (WWPH), formerly known as Forbes Quadrangle, is a landmark building on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. At 744,695 square feet (69,184.4 m2) it is the largest academic-use building on campus, providing administrative offices, classrooms, lecture halls, a food court, and computer labs. The hall sits on the former site of Forbes Field, and contains several artifacts, including the former stadium's home plate and one of two surviving Langley Aerodromes.

Posvar Hall houses Pitt's School of Education, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the University Center for International Studies, and the Social Sciences Departments.

Construction[edit]

Posvar from Forbes Quad

Posvar Hall was designed by a consortium of architects, including Louis Valentour of Johnstone Newcomer & Valentour,[1] who worked under the watch of Max Abramowitz who acted as a consultant to the university for the project.[2] Construction began in 1975[3] and was completed in 1978 with the dedication occurring on October 19, 1978.[4] The building sits on the former site of Forbes Field baseball stadium and beside the university's Hillman Library on the corner of Schenley Drive and Roberto Clemente Drive with Bouquet Street running along its west side. Enclosed passageways connect Posvar Hall to David Lawrence Hall, the Barco Law Building, and the Litchfield Towers.

Posvar Hall was designed in the Brutalist style and is constructed with concrete with a limestone exterior[5] and its height was limited to five stories so it would not compete with The Carnegie Institute directly across Schenley Plaza. Construction costs exceeded $38 million ($147.9 million today). Its floor space slightly exceeds that of the Cathedral of Learning. It has 2,000 windows, 574 offices, 30 seminar rooms, three lecture halls, one mile of corridors, and nearly 500 parking spaces in its two level garage below the facility.

Posvar Hall Galleria on the first floor is often used as meeting space and contains several lounge areas on the second floor. Home plate of Forbes Field can be seen near the middle of the photo.

The central area of the interior space is called the Galaria and contains various artwork including Virgil Cantini's mural Enlightenment and Joy and one of Samuel Pierpont Langley's aeodromes. A cascade of escalators are present to transport individuals between floors.[2]

Originally named Forbes Quadrangle, it was renamed on October 21, 1999 by the University's Board of Trustees in honor of Wesley W. Posvar (1925–2001), the 15th chancellor of the University.[6]

Forbes Field[edit]

The building stands on the original site of Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team from 1909–1970 and, at various times, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Homestead Grays, and Pitt's own football team. The stadium was dismantled starting in July 1971, and construction on the new building started soon afterwards and continued until 1974. The building incorporates many reminders of the famous ballpark—the home plate of Forbes Field remains near its exact spot, protected under lucite glass. The outfield wall is outlined in the sidewalk by bricks, and the portion of the famously deep left-center field wall still stands across the street, marked "457 Feet". Originally, the classrooms were numbered to reflect the seating section of the old stadium where each classroom was located. However, this system confused people, and was changed in 2004 to a standard four-digit numbering system.

Art[edit]

Cantini's New Horizons, Skyscape

Virgil Cantini's colorful porcelain enamel on steel mural Enlightenment and Joy (1977) is on display on the ground floor.[7] The piece is an example of Cantini's use of circles, representing the earth, moon, and sun, an artistic trend inspired by the Apollo moon landings. The work was created to honor former University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Edward Litchfield who died in a plane crash in 1956.[8]

Cantini's 1965 steel rod and multicolored glass sculpture New Horizons, Skyscape is also on display near room 1500.[9] The sculpture was donated to the university by the Joseph Horne Company from its department store in the South Hills Village mall where it had previously been on display.[2]

Tony Smith's 1971 20-foot-tall painted steel sculpture Light Up!, commissioned by Westinghouse and originally displayed in downtown Pittsburgh,[9] can be found outside Posvar Hall in Forbes Quad between it and Hillman Library.[10] Donated to and re-installed at Pitt in 1988, it was temporarily loaned to the Museum of Modern Art and displayed in front of the Seagram Building in New York City for a 1988 Tony Smith retrospective.[9]

Aerodrome[edit]

One of two surviving Samuel P. Langley's Aerodromes, Aerodrome No. 6, can be seen inside Posvar Hall. Behind the aerodrome, a portion mural Enlightenment and Joy by Virgil Cantini can be seen.

One of two surviving Langley Aerodromes, Aerodrome No. 6 dating from 1896, is displayed in the ground floor lobby amid various artworks and sculptures. The Aeordrome was an experimental aircraft commissioned by the United States Army from former Pitt professor and Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley. It flew 5,000 feet in November 1896, further proving (after the success of No. 5 in May) the feasibility of engine-driven heavier-than-air flight. The aircraft was restored in part by the Pitt engineering students. Fabric on the wings and tail is the only new material, however, the tail and several wing ribs were rebuilt using wood provided by the Smithsonian Institution and dating from the same time period.[11] The restoration was completed over two years and the plane placed on display in Posvar Hall in 1980.[12]

Gallery[edit]

Cantini's Enlightenment and Joy
The home plate from Forbes Field is embedded in the ground floor

References[edit]

  • Alberts, Robert C. (1987). Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787–1987. University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-1150-7. 
  1. ^ Smydo, Joe (2006-11-28). "Louis F. Valentour: June 9, 1923-Nov. 21, 2006: World traveler, local architect, voracious reader who led zestful life". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA). Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  2. ^ a b c Stearns, Bob (1978-01-15). "Forbes Field Goes Scholastic". The Pittsburgh Press Roto. pp. 8–10. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  3. ^ PhotoStandalone 8 -- No Title; New Pittsburgh Courier (1969-1981); Dec 20, 1975; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Pittsburgh Courier: 1911-2002; accessdate=2008-08-18
  4. ^ "Pitt to dedicate new buildings". The Pittsburgh Press. 1978-10-17. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  5. ^ Steele, Bruce (2002-10-24). "Weighing in on Pitt’s eclectic architecture". University Times 35 (5) (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh). Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  6. ^ Hart, Peter (1999-10-28). "Forbes Quad, WPIC renamed in honor of Posvar, Detre". University Times 32 (5) (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh). Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  7. ^ Carnegie Museum of Art (2006). Pittsburgh Art in Public Places: Oakland Walking Tour. Office of Public Art. p. 8. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  8. ^ Hart, Peter (2009-05-14). "Obituary: Virgil D. Cantini". University Times 41 (18) (University of Pittsburgh). Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  9. ^ a b c "Taking a tour of Pitt art". University Times 38 (10). 2006-01-19. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  10. ^ Carnegie Museum of Art (2006). Pittsburgh Art in Public Places: Oakland Walking Tour. Office of Public Art. p. 9. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  11. ^ Goetz, Al (Fall 2007). "Feedback: The Real Thing". Pitt Magazine (University of Pittsburgh Office of Public Affairs): 3. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  12. ^ Fisher, Ken (1980-06-27). "Pitt dedicates early plane built by unsung aviator". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA). Retrieved 2010-10-11. 

External links[edit]

Panoramas

Video


Preceded by
Barco Law Building
University of Pittsburgh Buildings
Posvar Hall

Constructed: 1975-1978
Succeeded by
Victoria Building