Preserving our Architectural Treasures


The Cathedral of Learning, the unique and architecturally stunning landmark that has come to symbolize the University of Pittsburgh is the tallest education building in the United States.

The Cathedral owes its very existence to the vision and persistence of John Gabbert Bowman, Pitt's chancellor from 1921 to 1945. Chancellor Bowman began building this magnificent structure in 1926 and dedicated the building in 1937 with the help of contributions from men, women, and children throughout the region.

“They shall find wisdom here and faith—in steel and stone, in character and thought—they shall find beauty, adventure, and moments of high victory,” said Chancellor John Bowman.

Designed by Philadelphia architect Charles Zeller Klauder, the Cathedral was the world's tallest educational building at the time it was built. Now, it is surpassed only by the tower of Russia's Moscow State University. Originally planning a 52-story structure, Klauder went through dozens of designs before finally settling on one that Bowman approved.

The site, part of a 14-acre parcel of land known as Frick Acres, was donated to the University by Andrew W. Mellon and his brother, Richard B. Mellon. The site previously was the location of the mansion of James K. Moorhead, a U.S. Congressman and president of the Atlantic & Ohio Telegraph Co., predecessor to Western Union Telegraph Co.

Today, the Cathedral of Learning is home to the magnificent three-story "Commons Room" at ground level, the internationally renowned Nationality Classrooms, the University's administrative offices, libraries, a computer center, a restaurant, and offices and classrooms for many liberal arts departments.


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