The University of Pittsburgh's renowned Nationality Rooms are gifts from the ethnic communities who helped to build Pittsburgh. 31 rooms commemorate the cultural heritages of the communities who supported and planned their construction.
The idea of the Nationality Rooms originated in 1926 when the ground was broken for the construction of the 42-story gothic-style Cathedral of Learning. The first 19 rooms encircling the first floor Commons Room were completed between 1938 and 1957. The other twelve rooms, some of which are located on the third floor of the Cathedral of Learning, have been built since 1987.
An important principle in the plan for each room is that the design pre-date the signing of the American Constitution and the founding of the University of Pittsburgh in 1787. The Nationality Rooms are intended to promote the depiction of deeply-rooted and lasting elements, so political and religious symbols do not appear in the rooms nor do portraits of or reference to any living person. The rooms and the elements within were created based on designs by international architects, designers, artists and craftspeople. The designs of the Nationality Rooms are functional, educational and aesthetically pleasing. The rooms are in use most every weekday as classrooms. The Nationality Rooms provide inspiration to the students, faculty, staff and guests who visit them.