David Lawrence Hall

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David Lawrence Hall is a major academic building at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, where it serves as the school's largest lecture hall and auditorium facility.


Lawrence Hall was constructed on the site former Pittsburgh Board of Education's central warehouse and maintenance shop which was acquired by the university for $300,000.[1] Designed by Johnstone, McMillin & Associates,[2] it was completed in the spring of 1968 at a cost of $2.2 million.[3] Lawrence Hall was originally known as the Common Facilities Building,[4] and contains a large lecture hall that is typically divided into two parts and nine classrooms on two floors.[5] Lawrence Hall is used for social sciences classes and other disciplines across the school's curriculum.

A lecture hall in David Lawrence Hall

In 1969, Lawrence Hall became the center of one of the largest student protests at Pitt during the late 1960s era when many student demonstrations were occurring around the world. A group calling itself the Concerned Students and Faulty attempted a three day, round-the-clock fast in the lobby of the building to protest academic and administrative policies at the university, including demands to open access to all meetings and files and to abolish grade averages.[6][7] Reaching approximately 350 protesters, the group gradually diminished to slightly over half that size by the time the building officially closed. A court order obtained by the university chancellor Wesley Posvar led to a peaceable relocation at 4:30 am, approximately 16 hours after the beginning of the sit-in.[8] The approximately 70 remaining protesters moved to the ballroom of the William Pitt Union where some continued their protest. The protest had little effect, although some of the students promised more sit-ins and the group continued on, but soon after folded due to a lack of student interest.[6][9] The events did prompt Posvar to attempt to hold an open hearing in the Commons Facilities Building in the spring of 1970 in order to let students air their gripes and opinions. However, the meeting was lightly attended.[10]

On September 16, 1970, the building is named in honor of David L. Lawrence, a trustee of the university from 1945 until his death in 1966, who was also a former Governor of Pennsylvania and the mayor of Pittsburgh from 1946 to 1959 during Pittsburgh's first urban renewal program dubbed Renaissance I.[3]

The hall houses the largest newly renovated auditorium on campus; it seats 998 people and is generally divided into two large lecture classes.[11] Four of the first floor class rooms were also redesigned in 2013 in order to create better faculty-student interaction and a more collaborative learning space.[12][13]


"Ode to Space" by Virgil Cantini in honor of David Lawrence.

Virgil Cantini's 1966 steel with bronze and glass sculpture Ode to Space sits outside the entrance to David Lawrence Hall. The sculpture contains the inscription, labore as astra or "to work toward the stars."[14] The sculpture, weighing one ton and standing 15 feet high, was anonymously donated to the university as a memorial to Chancellor Edward Litchfield, whom died in a 1965 plane crash.[15]


  1. "Pitt pays $3000,000 for Oakland site". The Pittsburgh Press. 1961-10-29. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Historic Pittsburgh Image Collection: Construction of David Lawrence Hall" (photograph). University of Pittsburgh. 1967. Retrieved 2012-05-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Pitt buildings honor Litchfield and Lawrence". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. 1970-09-17. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. University of Pittsburgh Office of Institutional Research (April 1979). Fact Book 1979. University of Pittsburgh Office of Planning and Budget. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Lawrence Hall". University of Pittsburgh Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education. September 30, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Alberts, Robert C. (1986). Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh, 1787-1987. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 393–394. ISBN 0-8229-1150-7. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The sit-in at Pitt". The Pittsburgh Press. 1969-03-19. p. 26. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Associated Press (1969-03-12). "Pitt students end sit-in on court order". The Blade. Toledo, OH. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Shrensky, Isadore (1969-08-26). "New sit-ins predicted for Pitt by graduate student in parley". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Open Hearing at Pitt attended by few students". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. 1970-03-17. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Tour Pitt: David Lawrence Hall". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Maier, Em (August 26, 2013). "Construction projects advance over summer". The Pitt News. Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved August 26, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Barlow, Kimberly K.; Levine, Marty (August 29, 2013). "What's New at Pitt: Places". University Times. 46 (1). Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Carnegie Museum of Art (2006). Pittsburgh Art in Public Places: Oakland Walking Tour. Office of Public Art. p. 9. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Pitt given memorial to Litchfield". The Pittsburgh Press. 1968-10-04. Retrieved 2010-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
Hillman Library
University of Pittsburgh Buildings
David Lawrence Hall

Constructed: 1968
Succeeded by
Crawford Hall