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Cathedral of Learning, Accessible Ramp

Considered one of the “Great architectural fantasies of the 20th century,” the Commons Room in the Cathedral of Learning could very well be the most iconic space in Pittsburgh. To underscore their commitment to creating an inclusive environment, the University of Pittsburgh decided to modify the multilevel Commons Room so that it would be fully handicap accessible.

Informed by the strong symmetry of the space, our design solution included adding a double-ramp by the building’s main entrance. We attempted to be as faithful to Architect Charles Klauder’s original design as possible – sourcing the Indian Limestone and Vermont slate from the same quarries used for the original building. The ornate ironwork, designed by master ironworker, Samuel Yellin, was carefully studied and hand replicated by local craftsmen. Through our efforts we were able to seamlessly introduce 21st century elements in such a way that they appeared to have always been part of the original space.

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