Hillman Library was built on land that had bordered Forbes Field and was donated in the 1950s to Pitt by coal magnate John H. Hillman, Jr. When Forbes Field was razed in 1971, three other buildings were planned as a cluster for the site: Wesley W. Posvar Hall, David L. Lawrence Hall, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Design of Hillman Library was led by Celli-Flynn and Associates who served as coordinating architects. Kuhn, Newcomer & Valentour served as associated architects with Harrison & Abramovitz acting as consulting architects to the university. Dolores Miller and Associates consulted on the interior design, and Keyes Metcalf served as a library consultant. Constructed began in June 1965, and the library opened on January 8, 1968, while its formal dedication was held on September 6, 1968. It is named for John H. Hillman, Jr. Both the Hillman family and the Hillman Foundation gave millions toward its construction. The facade consisting of Indiana Limestone alternated with rows of Max Abramovitz designed the oriel windows. The floor-to-ceiling windows were placed at a bay window angle in order to be inconspicuous on the plane surface of the outer wall while still providing light. With five floors, seating for 1,539 students, and holding 1.9 million volumes, Hillman is the largest of the 17 libraries on the Pitt campus. In 1996, architect Celli-Flynn and Associates and Kuhn, Newcomer & Valentour won the Timeless Award for Enduring Design from the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects for its design of Hillman Library.
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