Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA


What is now the Tepper School of Business was originally built as the Graduate School of Industrial Administration. It sits elevated above the corner of Frew and Tech Streets, across from Skibo Gynmasium.



It was built in 1951 and designed by Burton Kenneth Johnstone, a Pittsburgh-based architect and former chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Architecture. He also served as dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts until 1952, so this building was designed as he was transitioning from academia to private architectural practice. According to his obituary, Johnstone later became known for designing medical buildings and facilities for the disabled.








The design of the Tepper School is restrained and uses varying heights on the building and unified materials including tan brick and limestone. The most prominent design elements are both the exterior and interior sculptures. On either side of the main entrance, Pittsburgh artist George Koren designed reliefs in limestone. According to a guide on notable sculpture in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, the reliefs “present the materials of  Pittsburgh’s historical industries: steel, coal, and oil, and their uses in manufacturing, transportation, and construction.”


On the interior lobby space, artist and Carnegie Mellon professor Robert Lepper sandblasted images into the dark red marble walls. The images denote sources of industry, a topic of recurring interest for the artist.


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Hunt Library, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA


Hunt Library is one of a few mid-century buildings on Carnegie Mellon’s campus, dating from 1960. The majority of buildings were built earlier or just recently. The architects were Lawrie and Green; the firm was formed in 1922 and closed in 1972. They designed many buildings throughout Pennsylvania, especially in Harrisburg where they were based.


A great focal point to the library is the cantilevered entrance canopy–one side features the names of the library donors, Mr. and Mrs. Roy A. Hunt, and the other side features the name of one of the library’s special collections and the primary reason for its construction, the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library. According to the Carnegie Mellon library website, the Hunt family gave the funds for this new library in 1958 and stipulated that Mrs. Hunt’s collection of books on botany be housed in the new building.


The rest of the building is rather staid, although it was most likely quite a shock when built, as compared to the rest of the campus designed in yellow brick and limestone. The library’s exterior features metal fins forming a cage around the largely glass curtain wall. The building now has a dramatic exterior LED lighting scheme at night.

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Trinity Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, PA


Facing Allegheny Commons Park on W. North Avenue is Trinity Lutheran Church. The surrounding blocks are mostly in the Mexican War Streets Historic District, so it’s unclear why the strip along W. North Street includes this building and at least two other mid-century churches. This one, built in 1963, features a low, sloped roof of wood shingle that dominates the overall appearance of the building and site. The facade and retaining walls are finished in a horizontal stone.


The stained glass on either side of the entrance looks to be embedded in concrete as in the Dalle de Verre technique.



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Newman Catholic Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA


On the edge of campus at N. Pleasant Street and Massachusetts Avenue is UMass’s Newman Catholic Center. It opened in April 1963. The Newman Center is one of hundreds across the country, existing as spiritual centers for Catholic students attending a secular college or university.

Although I have not been able to discover who the architect is, the building has a standard mid-century design and could pass for a residence hall, classroom building or even hotel except for minimal detailing like the metal crosses and the statue of Cardinal Newman above the door.

IMG_7455The lower level at the rear includes a cafe.


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First Baptist Church of Amherst, Amherst, MA


Adjacent to UMass Amherst is the First Baptist Church. Like a majority of buildings on the nearby campus, the church dates to the mid-century, specifically 1962. The design is typical for many suburban style protestant churches of the era, entered from the parking area. It also features a blind brick wall facing the street with decoration in a center column of concrete (here in the form of cross shapes). The sides of the sanctuary are lined with windows, although not stained glass.

IMG_7347The entrance has a large flat overhang and connects both the church in the front as well as educational and other buildings behind. The rear is built on a slope and leads down to a large parking area.


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Music Building, Amherst College, Amherst, MA


According to the Amherst Archives and Special Collections, the building was designed by the architect Benjamin Thompson in 1967-68. Thompson was a founding member of the influential The Architects Collaborative, along with its most famous member, Walter Gropius.

IMG_7295The design is stripped down and utilitarian while using materials on the exterior that harmonize with the rest of the Amherst campus. All in all, it’s a relatively staid addition to the campus, probably exactly what Amherst had requested.

IMG_7291The inside of the Music Building has concrete coffered ceilings similar to this other Thompson design we have featured.


At the entrance located under an overhang, the brick pavers along the ground continue into the lobby space.


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Merrill Science Center, Amherst College, Amherst, MA


The Merrill Science Center of 1966-68 is sits on a sloping hillside near the main quadrangle of the Amherst College campus. It was designed by Campbell, Aldrich and Nulty, the prolific firm out of Boston. Many readers will remember them best as co-architects of the still controversial Boston City Hall. Like that building, Merrill is seen by many as being severe with a front of angled edges and few windows. There is a large sunken brick courtyard in front of the entrance.

IMG_7315Walking into the main entrance, one can immediately exit the building down a short hallway and end up on Merrill Beach, a large outdoor area that incorporates the roof of the lower levels of the building built into the hillside. The view of this side shows more visible windows as well as two light wells with seating areas and landscaping that exist by the bridge connecting the main entrance area to the beach.

IMG_7314What might be the best feature of Merrill is the panoramic views from the rear of the building and the beach out to the nearby mountains and closer on, the Amherst athletic fields. The science department is leaving Merrill soon and the building is being considered for other uses.


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