Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Korean Heritage Room in Cathedral of Learning slated for November 15 dedication.

Korean Heritage Room Pitt
One design by Arumjigi (아름지기)

The Korean Heritage Room in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning has been in development for nearly a decade. In 2007, then-Chancellor Nordenberg allotted room 304 to the Korean Heritage Room Committee, and subsequent news articles always put its open a few years away. In the Spring 2015 Nationality Rooms Newsletter, released today, we learn that the dedication ceremony will be held on November 15. In the Message from the Director, on page 3, Director E. Maxine Bruhns writes:
The Korean Heritage Room’s walls, ceiling and floor arrived in a seaborne container on a truck March 27. Construction will begin in May when six Korean carpenters and three supervisors will construct the Room based on a 14th Century academic structure in Seoul.
Details continue to be sparse, though a pamphlet circulated at the 2012 Korean Food Bazaar talks 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.
And the Korean Heritage Room Committee website wrote, in 2012, on the design and planning:
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.
This 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 that South Korea is an industry-leader in electronics (like the touchscreen monitors made by Samsung and LG, for instance).

In addition to the rendering by Arumjigi atop the post, a few other concept drawings have appeared online. Details are a bit inconsistent, owing to the duration of the project, the number of consultants involved, and the lack of updates by the KHRC and the designers.

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).

The Cathedral of Learning has dozens of Nationality and Heritage Rooms on its first and third floors which
represent the culture of various ethnic groups that settled in Allegheny County and are supported by these cultural groups and governments.