Students may notice some major changes have taken place on the ground floor of the Cathedral of Learning over the summer—though they might not be obvious at first. Two sets of recessed doors, just steps away from the elevators, offer the first hint of something anew. On either side of the hall, you’ll find two completely remodeled Student Computing Labs, each featuring a slew of both decorative and functional upgrades.
Everything is new from floor to ceiling. Both are more inviting, brighter, and modern with new furniture, a fresh paint job, and energy-efficient LED light fixtures. Soon to be installed all-in-one workstations feature solid-state drives with 27” 4K displays that provide more screen space to work on your documents, spreadsheets, or any of the more than 150 available applications. Each workspace has dedicated power outlets with USB charging ports. Plus, bring-your-own-device spaces—some with monitors ready for connecting to your laptop—now have privacy panels.
James Weaver, Pitt alumnus and senior student computing coordinator for Pitt Information Technology, says some of the biggest input for the remodel came directly from students. Pitt IT’s Student Technology Focus Group, comprised of 15 undergraduate students from the Pittsburgh campus, helped the renovation team select specific additions. Students come from a variety of schools and majors, have a mix of technical expertise, and are at different points in their Pitt career.
“We wanted to create a space for students where they would want to go—instead of have to go,” said Weaver. His student employees even tested out various chairs to help choose which one was most comfortable. “Students will also notice the desks feel less cramped—their own personal ‘space bubble,’ if you will.”
Sophomore Erik Houseworth took note, stating “When I walked in for the first time, I was blown away ... I feel like you have more space than you used to.”
Of course, these changes didn’t happen overnight—work began just one day after the spring 2017 semester ended. Facilities and Pitt IT’s Student Computing team considered several design firms, selecting IKM Incorporated to make everyone’s vision become a reality. The firm, based out of Pittsburgh, has expertise in higher education architecture and interior design—including renovations of Pitt’s Salk Hall and projects at the University’s Bradford and Johnstown campuses.
Chris Davidson, student computing team lead is eager for students to see the results of three months of intense construction. “The redesign makes it more exciting to be in the lab. There’s extra room to bring your own device with a noticeable change in scenery,” Davidson said.
Kruthika Doreswamy, sophomore neuroscience and French major, walked in on the first day of classes pleasantly surprised by the renovated labs. She said “Having more computers and printers is a big upgrade. The computers are really nice and a lot bigger than last year.”
Feedback from both faculty and students included changing the entrances. The recessed doors prevent passersby from potentially being hit by one as they walk through the hallways. The doorways are also wider, making it easier to see if the lab is crowded.
Houseworth took note of the latest software updates in the lab too. “It’s really nice to have brand new versions of popular software like Adobe Illustrator,” he said.
The project also included reconfiguration of the technology classroom, which instructors can reserve. New student workstations with power outlets at each, as well as new instruction audio-visual equipment highlight the classroom enhancements.
Pitt Information Technology expects a steady stream of students in the renovated labs. After all, there are an average of 40,000 logins each semester in the Cathedral labs alone. And with a team of more than 100 student employees across the eight labs on the Pittsburgh campus, they’re ready for the rush.
Visit pi.tt/labs to find locations, hours, and equipment available at each of the University’s Student Computing Labs.