Mellon Hall of Science
100 Mellon Hall
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
15282 
USA

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 1968

Mies van der Rohe's Richard King Mellon Hall of Science in Duquesne
University (now referred to simply as 'Mellon Hall of Science
') is one of
the more seldom photographed or even mentioned buildings of Mies' career
(except perhaps for some of his early work). Dedicated in 1968, this
four-story building houses labs as well as two large lecture halls, each
with seating capacity of 250, which are currently used by the biology and
environmental sciences departments of Duquesne University. The building is located within the Duquesne University campus, not far from downtown
Pittsburgh and was awarded the 'Laboratory of the Year'award in 1969 by Industrial Research Magazine.

 



Unlike Crown Hall (in IIT, Chicago, Illinois), Mellon Hall has an unassuming
entrance that lacks the monumental nature of the latter
's raised entryway. In Mellon Hall Mies makes similar use of his signature I-beam, much like in the Seagram Building, though the effect that it has on that building, of exaggerating its verticality, is vastly lost in Mellon Hall which is short and wide in structure. Like in the Seagram Building, the I-beams appear to be more of a decorative element than a structural one, especially due to their placement in the façade. This all gives some merit to Philip Johnson's statement about modern architecture being in fact a 'style', one which clearly had formal considerations, rather than overemphasizing its functionalist roots.

 

 

Setting Mellon Hall aside from these other buildings is its almost un-Miesian fenestration. Perhaps due to the needs of the labs within the building, most windows are much smaller than they could be. With the use of tinted glass in its construction, however, the composition is cohesive and a rhythm is established by the I-beams. 

 

 

Today, the buildingıs interiors are reminiscent of a standard American High
School, lined with black lockers and display cases which all appear to have
been added well after the original construction. Cubicles have been added in certain hallways and serve as student lounge areas. Most hallways are also currently used for storage of various pieces of furniture, refrigerators and large pieces of scientific equipment.

As I walked through the hallways, I was greeted by a very kind faculty
member who inquired about my interest in the building. Upon explaining the
reasoning for my picture taking, she told me that there had been plans
recently to add a raised, covered walkway that would have joined Mellon Hall to a nearby building. These plans, however, were dropped due to an
individualıs concern for preserving the integrity of the building. If this
is in fact true, itıs certainly good to know that at least one person in the
University's administration is aware of this building's importance. As it
stands now, the building's interior does not have the kind of pristine
quality that has become the standard for architectural photography in books and magazines today, but one could simply say that the building has clearly been lived in, and is actively used by both students and faculty. According to the professor whom I met, the building works well and continues to be a center of activity on campus, regardless of how disorganized its interiors look. Is that not at least part of the meaning of architectural success?

 



K. Bellon 2002 


How to visit

Due to its proximity to Pittsburgh's downtown as well as main
streets leading in and out of downtown, visiting is a fairly easy task. Off
of Forbes Avenue, turn into McAnutly Drive and make a right onto Locust
Street. Metered street parking is available in Locust Street, though most
metered spots are reserved for parking pass holders. 

Mellon Hall is behind Hanley Hall and the Duquesne Union (for a
campus map, visit www.duq.edu/campusmap/indexf.html.) Many buses such as 67H can take you to the Duquesne University campus (for more information on bus routes visit www.portauthority.org) The building is open during school hours as well as weekends, and all floors are open to the public. 

For further information please call +1 412 396 6222.


Books and other web sites

Click the book title to view and to order direct from

 

0226740609_m.gif (13814 bytes) Mies van der Rohe: A critical biography
Franz Schulze

 

0393315045_m.gif (5721 bytes) The Master Builders: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright
Peter Blake

A highly readable introduction.

 

 

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