aims to remedy that with a semester of cultural discovery, real-world
work experience and college classes.
POINT PARK UNIVERSITY
One of the local academic community’s most exciting new spac-
es is the 4,000-square-foot Center for Media Innovation, opening in
September at Point Park. After a dramatic, $2.5 million makeover,
this former Nathan’s Hot Dog shop Downtown now is sheathed in
floor-to-ceiling glass windows that invite passers-by to discover the
high-tech newsroom and TV studio inside. A news ticker outside
already drew a crowd months before the official opening, scheduled
for Sept. 13.
Students will be able to check out one of 25 laptop computers
and use the graphics-production space and state-of-the-art TV, ra-
dio and photo studios to practice their craft in glass-enclosed spaces
designed for a “fishbowl studio experience.” A central wall can pivot
to create an open space for gallery exhibits, presentations and visits
by industry speakers.
The Center is an academic laboratory, but it’s also intended
to be an incubator and collaborative space for the region’s media
professionals at all stages of their careers to develop new skills and
mentor young journalists. It’s a creative space designed to meet a
unique need: Teach the next generation of journalists to navigate an
industry that continues to change at stunning speed, while reaching
out to the local community as it grapples with the changing role of
media in American life.
“We really want to use the space to remind the public about the
1. 6 acres of land on Forbes Avenue between Wood and Smithfield
role of a free and independent media,” says center Director Andrew
Conte, as well as create a “place where people come together to talk
about important news events and about the business of journalism.”
It’s a high-tech place with a very human goal: to become “a corner
where Pittsburgh congregates.”
Meanwhile, work continues on the Point Park University Pitts-
burgh Playhouse redesign, a $53 million building project that spans
Streets. Slated to open in fall 2018, the 92,000-square-foot building
will be able to run simultaneous performances in three theaters and
offer outdoor performance space.
Students can expect an influx of guest speakers, increased
performance opportunities and space for student-driven collaboration, plus extensive interaction with visiting artists. This modern
theater also will connect student performers with Pittsburgh’s past:
Three historical facades from Forbes Avenue have been carefully
removed and will be reassembled as focal pieces of the new buildings, complete with markers detailing their history. Point Park has
designed the Playhouse to be an academic amenity for students in
every major as well as the wider Pittsburgh community.
ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY
Pittsburghers have watched RMU grow exponentially from
its roots as a business school for city commuters to a landmark
campus with more than 2,000 resident students in the midst of
suburban Moon Township. Its newest addition is Scaife Hall, the
30,000-square-foot home of its School of Nursing and Health Sci-
ences, which opened in the spring.
It includes a realistic, eight-bed clinical- performance suite in
which students practice their skills, plus simulated primary-care
offices, debriefing rooms, a Nuclear Medicine Technology Lab and a
model apartment for students learning to care for a homebound patient or elderly person living independently. All offer unprecedented
practical experience for students, school officials say.
This new space also is being used as a training center for health
care workers throughout the region, giving students a chance to interact with professionals in their field. Its benefits have rippled out to
other majors: The nursing school’s previous space has been shifted
to the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, RMU’s
An announcement is expected soon about a new, 4500-seat
arena, to be funded partially by corporate donors, that will house
the men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball programs.
It also would serve as a venue for concerts, conferences and other
university and community events. RMU also is finalizing plans
for residence halls and use of the space it has leased at the Energy
Innovation Center, where students can expect to enroll in certificate
programs and additional classes.
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
There’s construction on the horizon across many disciplines at
Pitt, says Owen Cooks, assistant vice chancellor for planning, design
and construction. Fields near Trees Hall on the upper campus in
Oakland will get new synthetic turf this year, and one will be topped
with a bubble dome to create a year-round recreation space.
“Recreation space is at a premium” on Pitt’s urban campus, says
Cooks, and the Trees Fields Project is designed to increase intramu-
ral sports and clubs sports for students. Ground has been broken for
that project, scheduled for completion in early 2017.
Elsewhere on campus, the recently renovated Clapp Hall science
building has earned Silver LEED certification and is two points
away from Gold. (That rating may get notched up soon.) Pitt, too,
has leased space at the Energy Innovation Center, where it plans
to conduct advanced engineering research. At least three Swanson
School of Engineering faculty members will maintain labs there, and
a dozen or more grad students and staff are expected to work with
them in this new space equipped for a wide range of research.
Along with engineering, faculty who perform energy-related
research in other Pitt departments — such as chemistry, geology or
other sciences — may use the university’s space in the center; it’s
also available for incubation of energy-related startup companies.
Work at the center will complement rather than replace research
opportunities already available on campus.
On the horizon: Pitt announced in July the acquisition of a
2-acre site near the campus at One Bigelow Boulevard, which it
intends to develop as a collaborative-innovation space. Formal plan-
ning and fundraising are underway, but few specifics are available.
Cooks describes it as a “huge, huge investment for Pitt in the future”
and significant for economic development in the region.
Frequent contributor Melissa Rayworth is a freelance writer whose clients include The Associated Press and the parenting website What ToExpect.com. A graduate of
Cornell University, Rayworth is a resident of Hampton Township but currently spends much of the year living in Bangkok, Thailand, with her husband and children.