Campus rec center just one of several construction projects this fall


Construction on Pitt’s campuses will be in full swing this fall, with some projects wrapping up and others getting started in earnest.

Work on the most anticipated new building in Oaklandthe state-of-the-art Campus Recreation and Wellness Center — will begin with a groundbreaking and celebration Sept. 29. The center is expected to open in fall 2024.

The celebration will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Benedum Hall, which sits across O’Hara Street from the rec center site. The new multi-story facility will go up the hillside and connect to upper campus.

It will include a recreation pool, jogging track, weight-lifting equipment, multi-activity courts for basketball, volleyball and other activities, and dining options. The center will adopt a holistic approach to supporting overall student health and wellness. It also will be open to faculty and staff.

Other ongoing projects

Hillside enabling projects and chilled water plant: This work includes a new chilled water plant near the Pitt Sports Dome and infrastructure improvements to power, chilled water and sewer lines. The chilled water plant is on schedule to be completed by December 2023. The project will expand capacity to support new buildings like the new rec center and Victory Heights’ projects, in addition to building redundancies. It also is part of Facilities Management’s diversity initiatives, with 39 percent of the project’s construction awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses. The final stage of the project, after the completion of the rec center, will be pathway enhancements, outdoor spaces and sustainable landscape on the hillside.

Hillman Library Reinvention: Phase 3 of this project, which encompasses renovations to approximately 40,000 square feet on the first and second floors, is on schedule to finish in February 2023. It also will include an expanded Open Lab collaborative space, open study areas, expanded cafe, and a new ADA accessible ramp from Forbes Avenue. The ground, third and fourth floors remain open during renovations; entry is through the ground floor only. No date has been set for work to begin on the final phase of the project — the ground floor and the core of the building, which houses elevators and bathrooms.

Alumni Hall ramps: In the University’s commitment to strengthen accessibility across campus, Alumni Hall is getting a new ADA accessible ramp at the Lytton Avenue entrance, which will be completed in September. ADA ramps also were previously installed to access the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room. 

Heinz Chapel spire surrounded by scaffolding

Heinz Chapel spire: The spire of Heinz Memorial Chapel is undergoing a complete rebuild. Extra attention is being paid to preservation of the historical design, while ensuring the safety and longevity of the new structure. The spire is expected to be completed in mid-2023. Heinz Chapel remains open for services and events, including weddings and tours.

Alan Magee Scaife Hall: Due to construction delays, the completion date for the Scaife Hall addition for the School of Medicine was moved to January 2023. The new addition will supply HVAC, plumbing and electrical to the rest of the building, while offering seven floors of contemporary learning space. Updates underway include a renovated Health Sciences Library with an entrance on Lothrop Street, as well as a cafe that will include outside seating along Terrace Street. In the coming months, construction will target completion of the exterior facade, streetscape elements and interior finish work, in addition to furniture and AV equipment installations.

Pitt-Greensburg Life Sciences Building: Work on this state-of-the-art facility— including clinical, chemistry and biology labs, simulation suites, telemedicine space, computer lab and additional office space — began in August 2021 and is scheduled to be completed in October. It will accommodate the growing science and nursing programs. A new corridor will connect the building to Smith Hall and create a unified Life Sciences Complex.

Pitt-Bradford George B. Duke Engineering & Information Technologies Building: Also begun in August 2021, the Duke Building is scheduled to be completed in December. It will be the home of two new engineering technology majors— mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology — as well as other existing engineering and information technology programs. The project includes specialized spaces for engineering and technology studies, including a circuit lab, measurements lab, machine shop, fluid dynamics lab, virtual reality lab, and study rooms. The building was also constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards and a solar array on the roof is expected to produce 113,000 kWh per year.

Fifth and Halket site: The property at Fifth and Halket has been approved for core and shell construction. This includes the foundational interior (core) and outer structure (shell), without additional interior elements like lighting fixtures, walls, ceilings, and furnishings. Construction on the site has begun, and the University is working with designers and contractors on building equipment plans. Both the core and shell are expected to be completed in December 2024. The interior design of the 10-story building be designed to meet the needs of the University programs that eventual inhabit it. 

Completed projects

Plaza outside Cathedral: The Cathedral of Learning received upgrades to the waterproofing of the foundation. The project was just recently completed. The Bigelow Street entrance does not look different, but the completed work will ensure the Cathedral’s longevity, according to Facilities Management.

People touring nursing lab

Pitt–Titusville Broadhurst Science Center: The newly renovated Broadhurst Science Center at the Pitt-Titusville Education and Training Hub officially opened with a ribbon cutting on Aug. 11. It also marked the kickoff to the public part of the fundraising campaign to raise $3 million, of which they’ve already had commitments for $1.8 million. Bill Strickland — founder of Manchester Bidwell Corp., one of the partners in the Titusville Hub — said he remembers coming to see the building when it was empty and “people walked around with their heads down. And I said, we need to institute hope in this place to turn the lights on to make a difference in the lives of the people coming here and that is happening.”

The new building will house classrooms and labs for all of the Titusville partners, including the Manufacturing Assistance Center and Northern Pennsylvania Regional College. The Brockway Center for Arts & Technology at Titusville also will offer a no-cost medical assistants program. “This is going to set an example of how a major university, rural-based program could collaborate, so that we can take this model around to every major university and that becomes a prototype,” Strickland said at the ribbon cutting.

Ground floor of William Pitt Union: A new, expanded catering area was developed in the William Pitt Union over the summer to support larger group catering needs for Pitt students, faculty and staff. The work is complete, and this area is now open.

Upcoming projects

Arena and Sports Performance Complex: The Board of Trustees Property and Facilities Committee approved excavation of the site for the new Arena and Sports Performance Complex, part of the Victory Heights initiative, located next to the Petersen Events Center. Work is slated to begin this fall. The work currently underway in this area is in support of the new chilled water plant.

Quality Inn site: Pitt has proposed using the former Quality Inn site at 3401 Boulevard of the Allies for new non-student housing and a grocery store and is in the project planning process. While project development plans progress, the Panera Bread on site remains open. Developer Walnut Capitol has said this will be the first priority of the Oakland Crossings project.

Off-campus work

construction equipment at site of new UPMC hospital

The largest construction project in Oakland isn’t on Pitt’s campus, but it will certainly impact the University community. Work began in the spring on UPMC’s expansion of Presbyterian Hospital and is expected to last four years. The new tower at the former site of Children’s Hospital will be a glass-enclosed, 17-story, 287-foot structure. It will house 636 patient beds and have a 450-space parking garage.

The main impact right now is some traffic diversions. Parking has been eliminated on DeSoto Street and there is only one lane of traffic, going uphill. On Fifth Avenue, one lane of traffic and the sidewalk are closed starting at DeSoto and ending before the Atwood bus shelter.

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


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