USG reviews future campus expansion

Written By Hannah Walden, USG Beat Writer

In one of four meetings held in the Lawrence Hall multipurpose room, the United Student Government (USG) discussed the state of the new Playhouse along with other campus renovations made over the summer.

Chris Hill, Vice President of Operations in the Physical Plant, spoke to the legislative body and shared blueprints of the new Pittsburgh Playhouse. 

The new Playhouse, located on Forbes Avenue, will be three stories tall and will feature three theaters, multiple rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, lounges and classrooms.

The Playhouse will be directly connected to the University Center.

“[The new Playhouse] will have a connection on all of the floors so you can walk from the University Center into the Playhouse,” Hill said.

Three historical buildings had to be torn down in order for the Playhouse to be built. In order to preserve the history, the facades were carefully taken off and will be reinstalled on the front of the building.

“They felt these buildings had some value, and so did we,” Hill said.

Built in 1903, the Stock Exchange building was considered part of the “Wall Street of Pittsburgh.” The university purchased the building around six years ago, according to Hill.

After having one floor removed and a second floor added, the space will host a costume shop creating more room for student activity.

The new Playhouse will include a black box theater on the third floor as well as an adaptive theater. The adaptive theater seats 200 people and has a large garage door installed, allowing the theater to open to the outdoor courtyard.

The main theater is planned to seat up to 500 people and will feature asymmetrical balconies clad in wood. The orchestra pit is also on a raising and lowering platform, giving the director more freedom and creativity to put the orchestra where they wish.

Senators Matt Bauman and Megan Ortego expressed concerns about what will happen to Point Park shuttles to Oakland after the Playhouse is built and what will happen to the old Playhouse.

While Hill pointed to no definite plans, shuttles will continue running to Oakland for another year after the new Playhouse is built, the only difference being that they will run less frequently. There are also possible plans for the old Playhouse being put up for sale.

Additional changes on campus include the library addition created over the summer. The space contains several study rooms in basement of the University Center. Academic Hall also received upgrades to its third floor chemistry lab, fourth floor physics lab and to the sixth floor power lab.

West Penn Hall will also see changes taking effect as early as the spring semester. Classrooms currently on the ninth and tenth floors will be moved to the third floor, while classrooms on the seventh and eighth floors will be moved to the fourth floor.

Senators also deliberated over USG’s internal budget. The $10,000 budget is the year’s worth of student government activities broken down into specific subcategories.

The internal budget includes USG stipends at a total of $4,000, supplies at $400, the USG Forum budget of $2,000, a team building budget of $750, a printing allowance of $200, the emergency club cushion of $1,200, the PCD starting budget of $500, office supplies for $450 and a marketing budget of $500.

Next week’s meeting will return to 701 Student Center.