New Center for Creativity space coming to the Cathedral


Each of Pitt’s “Year of …” initiatives have left a permanent mark on the University. The 2019-20 Year of Creativity may have had some events canceled because of the pandemic, but it will leave behind two new spaces for the Pitt community to express their creativity.

The Text & conText Lab opened this summer in Hillman Library, and still to come is a place in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning that will be centered on, but not restricted to, performance.

Construction work has already begun in B-50 and completion is expected by the end of the spring term 2022, according to Kit Ayars, director of the Center for Creativity. FortyEighty Architecture of Pittsburgh is the designer on the project, supported by Pitt’s Facilities Management team.

The Center for Creativity, which grew out of the Year of the Humanities in 2015-16, has a hub-and-spokes model, Ayars said. The original space, on the ground floor of the University Store on Fifth, is the hub — offering a little bit of everything: pottery wheel, musical instruments, paints, typewriters, fiber art materials, a creative re-use wall, and more.

The spokes include Pittsburgh Lens, a virtual space focused on telling stories about the region through film or podcasting, and the Text & conText Lab, a partnership with the University Library System that focuses on “book arts” — paper making, book binding, type setting, mono prints, paper marbling and more.

The new spoke, which was created with support from the provost’s office, will include five small practice rooms — one devoted to podcast recording — and a roughly 31-foot-by-40-foot rehearsal/performance space with a sprung floor that absorbs shocks.

“Building on the momentum of the Year of Creativity, the construction of this new Center for Creativity spoke in the Cathedral of Learning means that the center will be perfectly positioned to engage with departments within the Dietrich School — and with many others — to support both existing and emerging creative endeavors,” Provost Ann Cudd said.

All Center for Creativity spaces are open to all Pitt affiliates: staff, students and faculty in all schools and departments. Representatives from the Theatre Arts department have been advising the center on specific equipment, such as the lighting grid in the rehearsal space, and the Center for Creativity is actively reaching out to hear from prospective users of the space before finalizing use policies, such as hours and a reservation system.

“It’s exciting to see how much the Center for Creativity has grown in our first five years,” said Jeanne Marie Laskas, founding director of the center and a professor of English. “We’re looking forward to launching this new spoke in a centrally located space, where Pitt staff, faculty and students can create and express themselves through performance: poetry reading, dance, podcast recording, practicing on keyboard, or blocking a scene for a viral video.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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