Towering at 535 feet with 42 stories, the Cathedral of Learning the University of Pittsburgh is the highest educational structure in the United States and the second highest in the world, preceded only by the University of Moscow. It is a skyscraper fashioned in the gothic style and is cladded by terracotta. It also serves as the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh campus.
The creation of The Cathedral of Learning was ignited by the 10th chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, John Gabbert Bowman. In 1921, he thought that the university needs an edifice that would fitly represent the academic institution. Eventually, a piece of land was bought with the help of a certain wealthy family. The university then commissioned Charles Lauder to conceptualize the building and he conjured the plan of constructing a gothic tower supported by a steel frame. Forging of the now emblematic structure began in 1926 and in 1937, the tower was formally dedicated. The first class though was done here in 1931 while construction was still ongoing.
Inside, the Cathedral of Learning holds many rooms, equally grand as to how the tower looks from the outside. The biggest room in here is known as the Commons Room. Actually, the Commons Room is a building within a bigger building. It was constructed separately sans any steel frames and all its walls take all the weight of this entire ?sub-building.?
Another interesting feature in the interior design and space planning of the Cathedral of Learning are the Nationality Rooms which surrounds the Commons Room found at the first four levels of the tower. What?s unique about these 26 rooms (more rooms are in the pipeline) is that they houses furniture and ornaments that show an era in a nation?s history. One of the rooms depicts what Greece looked like during the fifth century and another enclave shows the Forbidden City in China during the 18th century. The money used in building these rooms are usually given by the countries they correspond to.
These rooms are of course, apart from the beautiful architectural elements such as arches, columns, vaulted ceilings, walkways and other grand rooms used as lecture halls, theatre, auditorium and offices.
The Cathedral of Learning is included in the National Register of Historic Places and is a U.S. Historic District Contributing Property. It is also an officially designated City of Pittsburgh Historic Structure and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Historic Landmark.