Donner House, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA


Donner House is a residential building on the Carnegie Mellon campus. With its eye-catching aqua brick, blue-tinted glass, and metal panels, it is distinctly mid-century and like nothing else nearby.

It was designed by Mitchell & Ritchey in 1952-54, one of three buildings that Ritchey designed on the campus (the other two being Cyert and Wean Halls). The firm was short-lived, dissolving in 1957, although Ritchey remained in Pittsburgh and went on to numerous other iterations. He had a hand in such major projects as Three Rivers Stadium and the Civic Area (the Igloo)–both now demolished.

IMG_7624Donner Hall is long with three stories at front and built onto a slope so the rear is five stories with two lower basement stories exposed. The front entrance is a centered, metal framed one story pavilion with aqua brick and enamel panels. The rear elevation gives a good opportunity to really see the blue-tinted window panels and how they alternate and change the impression of the building through color.


The building is a freshmen residence hall, originally built as an all-male dorm and one of the largest on the campus. Based on online comments it is not well loved.


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