The University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information (Pitt SCI) needed a temporary location to occupy over the next few years while the department develops a permanent home. Previously spread out over multiple buildings, this project brings all faculty together in a single location. One floor of the Bellefield Professional Building in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh was renovated to accommodate faculty, staff, as well as graduate students and Ph.D. candidates. Most importantly, the new workspace was intended to create a collaborative environment by providing a variety of spaces that facilitate interaction between all occupant types. As a place of transition for the SCI, Pitt wanted the space to be flexible and take the opportunity to experiment with various workstyles.
The maker space is the first thing visitors see past the elevator lobby and showcases the innovation and collaboration of students and faculty. This embodies the “fishbowl” concept of transparency embraced by the SCI. The kitchen area is two-sided, accommodating multiple functions: one side faces the exterior wall, offering a casual breakroom with views to the outside. The other side opens up to the large conference rooms via a modern folding wall, which enables it to act as a catering kitchen when hosting clients and events. A nearby pre-function space is flexible to suit both guests and collaborative touchdowns, with a phonebooth installed for private conversations.
Open workspaces and focus rooms fill the rest of the office, encouraging faculty and staff to experiment with different setups and adjust based on their needs for the day. The interior and graphic designers worked together to design a film for the glass walls of the focus rooms, to provide privacy while still allowing natural light in. The pattern references a computer science concept called the “distributed minimum spanning tree.” Ceilings were left exposed and painted black, embracing an industrial aesthetic and mirroring the display of technology below. Finishes were inspired by the very activities happening in the space: sleek and futuristic, neutrals accented by the blue and yellow of Pitt SCI’s branding.