Friday, July 6, 2012

Some looks at the proposed Korean Heritage Room at Pitt.

As I wrote in May, the Korean Heritage Room Committee is currently raising funds to turn room 304 into another of the famed "nationality rooms" at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. (Actually, fundraising has been underway since early 2008). A crude scan of a pamphlet back in May showed a rendering of how the interior of the 피츠버그대학교 한국실 may look, but there are some better, and slightly different, pictures online via consultants Arumjigi (아름지기) and the Korean Heritage Committee website. From the latter:

A pamphlet from 2009 by 내촌목공소 (.pdf) has more details about dimensions and building materials of the design by architect Minah Lee.

via 내촌목공소 (Naechon Carpenter's Workshop).

You may notice that some details, and some designs, are inconsistent, owing in part to the duration of the project and to the lack of activity on the websites of those involved. The plan is to replicate in part the early look of Sungkyunkwan University, founded in 1398. The KHR website writes on the history and progress of the room:
In 2007, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg granted a room on the 3rd floor (CL 304) in the Cathedral of Learning to be designated as the Korean Heritage Room (KHR). We have gratefully accepted the honor and now are putting forward our best effort to complete the project to fulfill the high standard set forth by the other Nationality Rooms.

The Korean Heritage Room Committee (KHRC) was organized and led formerly by Dr. Kwanil Lee. An architectural firm, Arumjigi Culture Keepers in Seoul, Korea was contacted to select the ideal architect to design the room.

In July 2009, the team including two candidate architects visited Pitt and met with the University architect for briefing of requirements related to the project. Ms. Minah Lee of Coparch Studio in Seoul was eventually selected as the primary architect. She, together with Mr. Young Suk Jang of Arumjigi Culture Keepers and Professor Bong Ryol Kim of Korea National University of Arts, returned in February 2012 and presented a detailed design of the KHR to the Pitt contingency and the U.S. architects including Mr. Park Rankin of the University and Mr. Kenneth Lee of McLachlan, Cornelius & Filoni. The overall design concept of the KHR room was well-received, and only a few minor details are yet to be determined.
Meanwhile a pamphlet circulated last spring gives information about the proposed layout:
The design of the KHR is faithfully based on our historic academic institution, Sungkuenkwan. The room wil be equipped with a state-of-the-art audiovisual system including an interactive touch screen LCD monitor. Thus through this endeavor, we will have an opportunity to showcase our splendid 5000-year history and cultural image, as well as the intellectual and economic prosperity of South Korea.
That duality is a common theme in Korean national brand marketing, and this room will reflect both a traditional image of Korea (at least a traditional image of old Korean universities) and a modern one, given South Korea is an industry-leader in electronics (like the touchscreen monitors made by Samsung and LG, for instance).

The recent estimates look at a 2014 completion date, but for years the speculation has always put the opening a few years away. If this room goes as planned, though, it will have an advantage over the other classrooms that are more form than function, and are not suitable for the average university class. Room 304 is currently media-equipped and can seat 37; the African Heritage Room, by contrast, doesn't even have desks.