Software Institute
Pittsburgh, PA

The SEI, at Carnegie Mellon University, an Air Force-affiliated Basic computer research facility, is an alchemy of materials & forms that balance a dynamic future on a resolute past. Reflective glass & metals combine with heavy stonework to mediate between an architecturally rich context and a cutting-edge internal program.


Situated among the monumental classical edifice of the Mellon Institute, modern commercial buildings and the gothic St.Paul’s Cathedral, the institute is conceived as ‘background’ building set within the urban fabric. At the entrance however, a sculpturally distinct limestone tower faces the cathedral’s façade, occupying the foreground. Visitors, entering through the semi-circular, stone forecourt find the tower standing in a garden defined by a wisteria-laden steel trelliswork structure. Within a pre-determined zoning envelope, a stone base visually supports curtain-wall elements which relate dimensionally to the massive stone colonnade across the street. Aluminum flange sections are applied along the top of the façade, adding depth & shadow and are emblematic of Pittsburgh’s distinguished heritage in metallurgy.

The project was featured in Architectural Record as ‘Soft Machine’, while an Op-ed column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette referred to the building as the ‘Software Chapel’.

ARCHITECTS: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), Design Architects; Peter Matthews, Senior Project Designer.
Joint venture with Burt Hill Kosar Rittlemann, Architects of Record

AREA: 140,000 sf high-security offices & support program; 400 car parking.


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