Flashing back to RMU 50 years ago

The current 2013 Fall Semester is a milestone for Robert Morris University.  What is now the main 230-acre campus for RMU opened fifty years ago this fall.  Prior to 1963, RMU had changed its name from Robert Morris School of Business to Robert Morris Junior College.  It was also at this time, the school acquired property outside of Pittsburgh in order to construct a residential campus.

The property was acquired from the Oliver Kaufmann family, the same Kaufmann family who established and operated the local department store, Kaufmann’s.  The Kaufmann’s mansion was actually used for student housing for a number of years before the structure was razed.  Massey Hall now sits on the site, but visitors can still find a reminder of the Kaufmann Estate; the gardens that sat in front of the mansion.

Oliver’s brother Edgar, who operated the department store business, contracted Frank Lloyd Wright to build a vacation home away from Pittsburgh.  The ending result was Falling Waters, located in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Tasso Katselas, a young architect in the early 1960s was soon hired by Robert Morris to design buildings for the new campus.  Although he was never a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, Katselas was heavily influenced by Wrights’ work.

The first building constructed, The Jefferson Center, utilizes similar styles used by Wright; cantilevered roofs and walkways, built into a hillside, unique use of glass for natural light, and the use of concrete.  Katselas designed Franklin Center in a similar matter.  Other buildings on campus built by Tasso Katselas include the Hale Center and some of the residence halls.

What is even more interesting is the fact these early buildings seem to face the direction of Massey Hall.  It may be a safe to say the heart of campus was originally the Kaufmanns Estate and gardens.

Since the establishment of the moon campus, Robert Morris as a whole has transformed into a leading university.  Robert Morris University is always changing and looking to make an impact on the future.

The impact has flourished in recent years as the university opened a new business school, school of communications building, and a soon to be built nursing school.

50 years later, the heart of the campus revolves around the Nicholson Center.  The campus is now home to numerous types of buildings.  Although the Nicholson Center is the heart of the campus, the students are the soul.

It is the hope of current students and faculty that when they look back 50 years on RMU’s campus, they too can be amazed at the transformation.