One of the most distinguishable features of Hamerschlag Hall is the rotunda, which also ingeniously served as a smokestack. The creation of this unique design was a result of Carnegie Mellon University’s distance from the energy-hub of downtown Pittsburgh. Because of this, the university had to establish a source of power to fuel the campus and ingeniously created the smokestack. Back then, working for your degree took a new meaning. It was a requirement that all freshman had to shovel two weeks’ worth of coal in order to graduate.
Ironically, the use of the room and smokestack has become the hallmark of manufacturing computing hardware and computer chips; in other words, 97-99% dust and particle free. Other green changes to the building include a roofing system that reduces rainwater runoff, conservation of energy, and the protection of the building itself from UV rays.
Hayley Pontia is a student at The University of Pittsburgh who works as a free-lancer for Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Through this blog series, she will share her unique perspective on our historic building and the surrounding architecture of nearby buildings in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.