The University of Pittsburgh sought to create a warm and inviting place that would celebrate diverse international cultures and spark interest in connection and exploration. The underutilized space was located on the first floor of Wesley W. Posvar Hall, a 1970’s brutalist building on campus.
To reconcile the vast proportions and blunt materiality of the existing brutalist building against the goals of creating flexible spaces rich in character and texture, we devised a persona: The Traveler. Our Traveler lived in a raw, urban loft (representing the existing space) and took every opportunity to explore the world. They returned from each adventure with treasures from abroad, filling their once-empty loft with multi-cultural flavor. This device helped unify our design from function to palette. The distinct zones were designated with familiar mnemonics such as “The Sun Room” or “The Kitchen Island” and were designed to reflect these relatable uses as they served the client’s diverse program needs.
The existing space posed a circulation challenge as it was a major through-way with access to elevators, two department entrances, and an emergency stair. Analysis revealed the circulation paths, sightlines, and occupiable remainder. To fully incorporate the existing five-story light-well, an internal stair was added. The addition forged a welcome connection to the second-floor study lounge and broke the vast volume of the light-well to bring first floor spaces to a human scale. Thoughtful placement of screens and fixed furniture, and deliberate lighting and floor treatments shaped intimate spaces without obscuring sightlines or circulation paths. Privacy needs were met through the addition of three enclosed nooks.
The colors, textures, and patterns of the Global Hub are a delicate blend of international influences, giving a sense of many cultures without directly connecting to any one in particular. Innovative technologies were integrated into the space as a means of delivering multimedia information. The interactive media wall invites users to learn more about programs that match their interests, while the two-story experience wall features abstract time displays and shows videos and information about various locations around the world.
Just as our Traveler is at home in the world, the Global Hub is an embodiment of Pitt’s global engagement, a reminder of their ever-growing international connection and an invitation to join them in their exploration.
– Belkys Torres, Executive Director of Global Engagement - University Center for International Studies (UCIS)