A History of the Finnish Room Project
The Finnish Committee of the University of Pittsburgh resolved to build a Finnish Room to be one of the Nationality Rooms in 2003. They raised the required $5000 and applied to the University. With an impressive list of events and cultural programs on its application, the application was approved. The Committee now became a Room Committee and started to develop a room design where cultural values in the Finnish history would be showcased.
In September 2005, University of Pittsburgh architect Park Rankin, project architect John Sadar, Professor Anna-Maija Ylimaula of the University of Oulu, and Finnish Committee members identified two rooms in the Cathedral of Learning, 306 and 329, suitable for expansion into the Finnish Nationality Classroom. Following this meeting, the Finnish Committee decided to sponsor a design competition for Finnish students of architecture and interior design to help develop design ideas for the new classroom. The competition was held and in March 2006, at the invitation of Professor Ylimaula (left), the members, together with Nationality Rooms Director E. Maxine Bruhns (middle) and the University of Pittsburgh architect Park Rankin (right), selected the design of Mika Gröndahl (far right), "Big Dipper" (next row), for first prize.
And Room 306 was selected to be the room to become the Finnish Room. Here is Room 306 in its current state, a functioning classroom today, as it will be when the Finnish Room is complete.
After the selection of the design and the room, fundraising began. In 2013, the Chairman Seija Cohen became interested in contacting Frank Eld, an expert in Finnish log construction, to visit the University. He gave a lecture here in 2014 and initiated a phase of planning for a functional, full scale, Room design. Finnish Room Committee members worked with Frank, architect Stephen Altherr and university architect Adrienne Spallone to develop the current plans for the Finnish Room.