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.
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