The Philippine Nationality Room is the first room to be dedicated since 2015.

If you go to the Philippine Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, you will be in the past and the future all at once. Crafted to look like a Filipino classroom from the 1890s, this thirty-first addition to the Nationality Rooms cleverly hides all its current technology, so as not to disrupt the historical feel.

Dedicated on June 9, 2019, after twenty years of hard work, the Philippine Nationality Room is a project Allen & Shariff proudly provided ME/FP engineering design services. It was a challenge and a joy to work on.

The room’s paneled bay windows, which nearly span the length of one wall and slide open, are made of pale capiz (oyster shells). Cane-backed chairs await students over the wide-plank African mahogany floors. The unpainted walls are full of traditional Filipino artwork and a Venetian mirror. At the head of the room, a custom-made cabinet was created to conceal current classroom technology, such as computer projection and audio/visual controls. When these items are not in use, the cabinet can be closed to give the appearance of a vintage chest of drawers.

General room lighting was needed for this classroom, but this was not something available in the 1890s, so it had to be hidden and disguised. A light cove was developed to conceal the general room lighting. In addition, special custom-made chandeliers were hung to give the room a candle-lit feel.

The heating and air conditioning needed to be upgraded, as well. The old-fashioned cast iron radiators located below the windows were replaced with new three-row copper fin tube radiators, specially designed with a vintage-style custom enclosure matching 1890’s Philippine décor. For the air conditioning, linear supply air diffusers were used to blend into the wood-slatted ceiling. Special remote-controlled volume dampers were fitted into the ductwork mounted above the inaccessible ceiling to control air volumes. Linear return air grilles were fitted into the lighting cove, hiding them from sight. Finally, a custom-fabricated access panel was created to provide access to the above-ceiling VAV supply air box. It was blended into the slotted wood ceiling to be as unobtrusive as possible.

The original fire protection sprinklers were replaced with new concealed sprinklers with square cover plates. Just like the VAV supply air box access panel, the square cover plates blend in with the linear lines of the slotted wood ceiling.

When the room is not in use as a classroom, keeping all the technology and features hidden provides the ambiance of the old-world Philippines. What a beautiful project to be a part of.

Learn more about our capabilities and experience in education projects.

The 2nd Annual Allen & Shariff Technical Seminar

20 Stanwix Street

It’s coming. Can you feel the excitement? We’re thrilled to be presenting our second annual seminar this Wednesday, September 25 at 20 Stanwix Street in Pittsburgh. It’s going to be a great program full of talented and accomplished guest speakers and lots of learning for all involved.

Here’s a sneak preview of the speakers we have lined up for the 2nd Annual Allen & Shariff Technical Seminar:

Jeff Reisenweber, from the air management professionals at FläktGroup SEMCO, will discuss the science, features, and benefits of energy recovery wheels.

Sandra Stashik from Acuity Brands Lighting will delve into the physiological implications of lighting and how to integrate circadian rhythm into lighting design.

Spectrum Energy’s Chet Knaup will present updates to the PA Energy Code. Chet will also showcase some of the financial incentives available and how to capitalize on those incentives to win projects.

This is going to be an informative and fun seminar building both invaluable knowledge and rewarding relationships. We hope to see you there!

To register, contact Paul Messineo at or 412-322-9293.  Space is limited. 

RSVP by Friday, September 20th.

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White Paper: Meeting Code & Keeping Healthcare Workers Safe

Building codes. They’re important standards that almost all industries have to meet in order to keep people safe, remain efficient, and ensure an environmentally conscious setting. Codes are constantly evolving in order to stay ahead of trends, right size issues, and account for changing environments. These changes often have compounding effects—from prompting slight updates to […]

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