project feature

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.

When Allen & Shariff began MEP/FP engineering design services for the renovation of and addition to the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company, we knew it would be a challenging yet unique undertaking. There were many aspects of the project that were ambitious but because we partnered with architectural firm RSSC, a company Allen & Shariff has worked with for approximately 18 years, our collaboration comes second nature and we knew that together we’d provide the best solution for the client.

Read the full post →

Commissioning Services for a Living, Observable Science Lesson: Shady Side Academy

When Shady Side Academy Senior School – a high school with a 130-acre campus in the Fox Chapel suburb of Pittsburgh – sought out Allen & Shariff to not only complete mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection design but also for the firm’s commissioning service, it was an instant fit. As a science-based learning building […]

Read the full post →

Surf’s Up! The Story of the Rehoboth City Hall Complex

  Is it possible to successfully combine all the functions of an entire city into a single central site? The $21 million Rehoboth City Hall Complex, completed in 2017, does exactly that. Allen & Shariff provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services for the project, which included the demolition of the existing city hall […]

Read the full post →

Connecting Classic Style and Modern Innovation at Shady Side Academy

  On a 130-acre campus in the Fox Chapel suburb of Pittsburgh, plans to add a modern building to the classic architecture of the Shady Side Academy Senior School are complete. In May 2018, school and community representatives officially dedicated The McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation, a state-of-the-art, sustainable building with a design approach […]

Read the full post →

How to Save a Life in 90 Minutes: Behind the Scenes with Allen & Shariff’s UPMC Cath Lab Renovation

Imagine you or a loved one being rushed to the emergency room because of a heart attack. The last thing you would want to hear is that the closest local hospital doesn’t have the facilities you need. Thankfully, if you live in New Castle, PA, that’s not the case. Allen & Shariff helped complete an […]

Read the full post →

A Tale of Two Stadiums

What happens when a company is headquartered in Baltimore and has a main branch in Pittsburgh? At Allen & Shariff, the famous Ravens-Steelers rivalry is just another day at the office. Fortunately, the firm has bridged the gap between the interoffice rivalry by providing fire alarm and wire management systems design services for both Heinz Field […]

Read the full post →

Eat, Drink, and Age Gracefully: Modern Maturity Center’s Expansion Helps Bring Meals to Thousands of Dover Seniors

Imagine you live in a different state from aging loved ones. Do you worry about their ability to maintain their independence as they get older? Or that it will become harder to do everyday things like shop for groceries or visit friends?  If you have an aging parent or relative in the greater Dover, DE […]

Read the full post →
Contact UsContact Us