Thursday Doors – Cathedral Doors

Faith's photo of the "door" to the elevator lobby. This is where each day started for me for one year.
Faith’s photo of the “door” to the elevator lobby. This is where each day started for me for one year.

For the benefit of anyone who forgot Monday’s post and those who didn’t read it, The Cathedral of Learning is the signature educational building on the University of Pittsburgh campus. I’m going to abbreviate the university down to Pitt and I’m going to refer to Cathy, as the Cathedral was affectionately known.

If you were here on Monday, you may not have noticed, but I was pretty careful not to include door photos in the gallery. I wanted to circle back to Cathy today, for Thursday Doors. I’m going to be staying in the Commons area, a.k.a. The first three floors, because that’s where the doors are interesting. Once you start moving to the upper floors, Cathy begins to look like any other university building that was built about 100 years ago. The Commons Room, called one of the “great architectural fantasies of the twentieth century”, is a fifteenth-century English perpendicular Gothic-style hall that covers half an acre (2,000 m2) and is 52 feet (16 m) tall. The room was a gift of Andrew Mellon. It’s nice to have friends.

One last little detail to get out of the way, if you’re not familiar with Thursday Doors – What? Have you been living under a rock? No, seriously, Thursday Doors is a weekly blog-share-thingie orchestrated by Norm Frampton. Each week, people from around the world share door photos, drawings, descriptions and possibly, memories of doors gone by. It all starts at Norm’s place. Once there, read his post, look at his doors and then look for the blue frog. Click on that little guy to add your door or to see all the other doors. It’s like magic.

Pitt is an urban campus which means it’s always busy. Cathy is always busy because it’s a great place to study, it has a food court in the basement, people might be touring the Nationality Rooms, there are over 40 floors of classrooms, and the guides never miss a chance to show off this magnificent structure to students and parents on a campus visit. If you’re a door guy/gal, you know what this means – you have to wait to get a door photo and you might have to settle for people in the picture. That’s OK. Pitt is a lively place and people prove that.

There were two tour groups crawling through Commons the day Faith and I were there. We waited, patiently, for our time, and we got some great photos. I also took some photos of the Nationality Rooms doors that were open. If you buy the tour, they give you a key. We did that in 2009, but that was before I knew I was supposed to be taking pictures of the doors. I will be featuring some of the Nationality Rooms in 2017…at least the ones where I have door photos.

Before we get to the gallery, I just want to point out one more thing about The Cathedral. In the pictures that include people, you might notice that they seem like they feel at home. I can say from experience, they do. The Commons felt like our living room. It has always been a student space. Students are always welcome and there are plenty of accommodations to facilitate study and discussion. If you’re thinking “wow, it must get pretty loud in there” you might be surprised. According to, brace yourself, Wikipedia:

“Despite its heavy use, the Commons Room is kept quiet by the use of Guastavino acoustical tiles as the stones between the ribs of vaulting.”

I can’t comment on the construction, but I know that the Commons is almost always quiet.

As always, thanks for stopping by No Facilities and thanks to Norm for making Thursday Doors a thing for those of us that love looking at doors.

Note: the gallery some doors from the Carnegie Library. There are many beautiful buildings in the area of the Cathedral, but I plan to feature some of them independently.


  1. I had to laugh at your first comment, Dan, because my first thought when this showed up not long ago was “But it’s Wednesday!” :-) Enjoyed the post and doors whatever the day. I’ve hit “Publish” rather than “Save” a time or two, so…wait for it…no worries!! Ha, ha!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good one Janet. I guess I walked into that one. I don’t normally write these in the editor. I publish through Live Writer and I set the date before uploading. The “publish” button usually is “Schedule” – but not tonight. I’m glad you like it.


  2. I like how you abbreviated the place, using the student nickname of Cathy, imagine as a youngster this being your place of study?!
    As far as doors go, the entrance into the elevator lobby was surely grand and gorgeous! :) The door where visitors were gathered on the tour was my favorite. It had repetitive patterns and the unique carvings into the stone (or cement moldings?) We’re really elaborate.
    The door varieties were excellent, Dan.
    I also believe Pitt is where my oldest daughter’s (Carrie) friend, studied theatre and costume design. Her name is Jennifer Bach and she attended 1998 until 2002, moved to Utah to work with a Shakespeare company whose costumes are used at festivals too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. I loved studying in this building, and all of my classes in the Graduate Business program where here. One stop shopping, if you will. I just had to get to the Cathedral and stay for the day.

      Pitt is a pretty good school. It was fun to be a student in my home town for a year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Handsome doors all around for sure. I don’t know how you could study in that medieval setting. I think my mind would have been wandering. I also learned something new because I got to google Live Writer which I didn’t know anything about.So, thank you for the Thursday Door plus learning experience. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. It was hard to stay focused in there, that’s for sure. Of course, paying attention has never been my strong suit. The one good thing, it was such a massive space, that I didn’t tend to notice movement, so it was just the architecture that stole my attention.

      I think Microsoft is/has discontinued Live Writer. You can still download it, but they won’t be making improvements. I like the easy integration with WP.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such an incredible building to do some studying in. Just tell me something straight: what about the draft? It can not be all that well insulated, hm? I’m sensitive to that and if I felt cold or in the way of the wind, I wouldn’t be able to sit still. Anyway, to say “majestic” is not enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmm, that’s a good question. I am not a fan of being cold, never have been, and I don’t remember being uncomfortable there. I was usually using the 2nd or 3rd floor carrels which ring the Commons. Maybe the heat rose up to them. The Commons really is an interior space. The outside of the Cathedral is classrooms, so there are no windows actually in the Commons. The entrance doors are revolving doors and the entrances are like little caves.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I already said it on Monday, but I love this space. Whoever designed this should have won an award for architectural design. Cathy and its Commons area is beautiful.

    I’m still waiting for an armored man on a white horse to show up in your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If he shows up, I’ll send him your way ;)

      Thanks Mary. Like so many buildings like this, there was a lot of controversy when it was built. It was the tallest building in Pittsburgh at the time, although the Gulf building, which started later and was completed earlier, was taller. A lot of people felt it was too big. The joke in town was that the contractor built the top floors first so they couldn’t make him mke it smaller.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So much beauty all in one place – a wonderful post Dan. This trip must have brought back lots of great memories for you Dan.
    When/if I get to that part of the country again I will definitely look up that tour. Thanks for sharing these :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw this late last night and hit the “like” button then thought…maybe he’ll change the date and correct it so it posts after midnight so I won’t comment right now. :)

    What a glorious place to study, and learn in! I said that before but, it’s how I feel looking at these images. I thought while looking at Faith’s image from the second floor where you used to study…”I’d be distracted all the time here.” I’m sure I’d spend way too much time zoning out looking at that view, or daydreaming, or people watching.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. You might be explaining my GPA. We had to maintain a B average, and I did that, but it was tough studying in this place. I remember trying to do accounting homework and quickly picturing every scene you can imagine playing out below. The best part was just walking in in the morning. It started every day with a little burst of inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Certainly worth withholding the doors until Thursday :) You’re right, they’re all splendid, even the ones with the most-utilitarian purposes and the least-likely-to-be-seen. I love the skinny door. I’m sure whatever’s behind it is magical (and prolly skinny!) Thanks for sharing this gem of a building. You were lucky to get to study there :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At first, I thought maybe the skinny door is covering an electrical panel, but I went back and looked, and it’s obviously been there all along (the detail around it). So, I don’t really know what it would be for, I do like it though. I have always felt privileged to have been able to study there.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Any connections with the Mellon family? Maybe someone else will donate a room like this for you. I’d settle for that little space off to the right of where the fireplace is I think that’s in Monday’s post).I wouldn’t need the whole Commons/

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It certainly feels like being at home. I enjoyed being in my college library, although I couldn’t sit there long because I had to rush for work. However, I have spent plenty of time in libraries across the city. Not much of a reader now, but if someone gives me my retirement money, I would love to take a few months off and read some books. :)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Over here we have this street library culture. Not sure if you guys have it there. It’s goes like this. You pick a book. You pay the vendor the entire price. Let’s say you pay 100 bucks. You take the book, read it at your pace. When you are done you return the book and the vendor repays you 80 bucks. So basically you get the book to read for just 20 bucks. The only condition is that you have to keep the book in good shape. No library fees required. These street book vendors have their own network and they can get you books if you provide them the title and author name.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We have a similar system in airports here. But a book for a flight. Turn it in at the next airport. I like to own the books I’ve read. It doesn’t make sense, but I like it.


  10. How enjoyable this was – and what a great place to study.
    It is good to see a building used – some of these structures sit empty and unused 90% of the time – or more? Who knows….
    And the sliver of a black door is amazing – and would maybe never pass code these days – my nephew is having a structure built and the ADA requirements have been tough – he had to lower sinks – lower a toilet – and open doorways – it was not too hard, and were easy fixes – but i guess things changed in just a couple years making more specific requirements.
    Nice doors !

    Liked by 1 person

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