Carnegie Mellon University
Forbes Beeler Apartments

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Completed May 2023
  • 119,000 Square Feet
  • CM-at-Risk
  • $49M Project Value

Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) new $49 million Forbes Beeler Apartments, located at Forbes Avenue and Beeler Street, accommodates a total of 266 beds in apartment-style units outfitted with kitchens. The IKM design team engaged with staff and students through our comprehensive workshop process to understand priorities for resident health and wellness. This collaboration resulted in student apartments that are configured into comfortably sized “pods” of four and eight and set back from the street to create a private, peaceful environment. Each pod shares amenities including lounges, study rooms, and laundry facilities. Eight-student pods have two kitchens and two baths so no more than four residents share those critical functions, a top concern of the student advisory group. Corridors are marked with “front porches” where color and accent sconces create a pause point at each apartment.

An analogue game room houses pool and ping pong tables, while consoles and gaming furniture are provided in a digital media room. Color changing LED lights set the mood of the wellness room and the Everbright wall is a color changing installation meant to be interactive and expressive. Massage chairs, floor pillows, and a moss wall installation foster a calming connection to the natural world.

Shared spaces embody student values of collaboration, equity, and community. The size and configuration of collaboration spaces anticipate the needs of various groups and activities. Integrated technology is intuitive and flexible, while furniture options accommodate a range of body types and levels of mobility. Public facing areas have full-height glazing that amplifies daylight and views from the exterior. Student lounges on each floor are light and airy, but with more privacy for group study functions.

The interior design of the residence hall is inspired by a beloved CMU motif: the family tartan of founder Andrew Carnegie. Each floor takes its dominant color from the pattern – blue, green, or yellow – as a subtle wayfinding cue. Bold red walls decorate common areas visible from the street. A two-story artifact wall also references campus history, drawing inspiration from a mural in the Doherty Apartments formerly located on this site. Cubbies house significant objects, continuing the CMU tradition of providing exhibition opportunities in residential common areas.

Located across the street from the East Campus Garage, the Forbes and Beeler Residence Hall also features an 8,000-square-foot food market open to students, the campus, and the community. The position of the building places it on a well-traveled pedestrian circulation route to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Several key strategies enabled construction of the residence hall to be completed earlier than expected, including design assist and full-scale apartment unit mock-ups. Exterior panels of framing, sheathing, and vapor barrier were pre-fabricated offsite, streamlining onsite assembly. This allowed the building to be conditioned and concrete to be poured, followed by interior framing and exterior masonry. As a result, the project was completed three months ahead of schedule.

IKM collaborated with lead designer Goody Clancy to create a comfortable home for undergraduate students, elevate the public experience of the campus, and bring new accessible amenities to the surrounding neighborhood. The Forbes Beeler Apartments are certified LEED Gold for new construction.

Photography: ©2023 Ed Massery

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