Once upon a time, in the summer of 1954, University of Pittsburgh officials came together with civic leaders to break ground for a building devoted to the education of health professionals. The building, Scaife Hall, would be connected to Presbyterian Hospital. Industrialist Alan Scaife led the University’s campaign to raise funds for the construction effort. On that summer day, his wife, Sarah Mellon Scaife, stood on the hillside next to the hospital and struck the earth with a gleaming spade. Two years later, a broad, imposing 11-story limestone structure opened its doors to students and scholars.
Scaife Hall’s designers envisioned an academic home to some of the country’s most promising minds in medicine. The next two decades brought a golden age of sorts, with the likes of Frank Dixon, Jack Myers, Klaus Hofmann, Niels Jerne, Julius Youngner, and Jonas Salk inspiring Pitt Med students.
Sixty-five years after Sarah Scaife wielded that shovel, the human body has not changed, but some of the ways we teach about it and explore its mysteries have. So the School of Medicine is planning an education addition and renovation that capitalizes on how learning happens today. Later this year, pending some approvals, Pittsburgh leaders will again come together for a groundbreaking next to Presbyterian; this time, they’ll be celebrating the raising of the School of Medicine’s new West Wing.
- Where it makes sense, the school will salvage and reuse existing wood trim and travertine.
- The addition will be built on existing foundational infrastructure.
- Plans include a renovated Falk Library of the Health Sciences; the library will have an entrance on Lothrop Street, making it more convenient for all health sciences students.
- There will be a terrace cafe on Terrace Street.
- Ad hoc meeting and plug-in areas will accommodate a range of study styles. (Think: lounges, couches, cafes, carrels.) They’ll also offer places to kick back. And we’d be remiss in not mentioning the student-only areas—“where they can snooze, study, hang out, play ping-pong, make a mess,” says Vice Dean Thompson with a smile.