Wesley W. Posvar Hall
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.
Posvar Hall was designed by a consortium of architects, including Louis Valentour of Johnstone Newcomer & Valentour, who worked under the watch of Max Abramowitz who acted as a consultant to the university for the project. Construction began in 1975 and was completed in 1978 with the dedication occurring on October 19, 1978. 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 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.
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.
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.
Virgil Cantini's colorful porcelain enamel on steel mural Enlightenment and Joy (1977) is on display on the ground floor. 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.
Cantini's 1965 steel rod and multicolored glass sculpture New Horizons, Skyscape is also on display near room 1500. 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.
Tony Smith's 1971 20-foot-tall painted steel sculpture Light Up!, commissioned by Westinghouse and originally displayed in downtown Pittsburgh, can be found outside Posvar Hall between it and Hillman Library. 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.
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. The restoration was completed over two years and the plane placed on display in Posvar Hall in 1980.
Courtyard. Posvar Hall is to the left and Hillman Library is to the right.
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- 360° panorama of the Posvar Hall ground floor walkway at the Forbes Field home plate
- 360° panorama at the remnant of Forbes Field's outfield wall close to Posvar Hall
Barco Law Building
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