Software Engineering Institute

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 / 7 – Photo credit: Karl A. Backus
“The Software Engineering Institute is respectful of both place and program; there is a kind of architectural hum as aspects of its heterogenous neighbors resonate throughout.”
James S. Russell, Architectural Record, March 1989



The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) is a federally funded research and development center that works closely with defense and government organizations, industry, and academia to improve and develop software-intensive systems. Located on Fifth Avenue in the lively Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the SEI symbolizes Pittsburgh’s metamorphosis from an industrial giant to a technology center.

Its articulated façade, composed of stone, steel and glass, reflects the scale and massing of the surrounding buildings, while acknowledging the advanced technological research occurring inside. The entry pavilion is set on axis with the limestone spires of the neo-Gothic St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Fifth Avenue street elevation continues the rhythm of the Mellon Institute to the west.

The five-floor building provides a workplace that accommodates the development of rapidly advancing software technology, and includes a 120-seat auditorium and 400-car garage. Accessible cable trays and integrated lighting in bracketed beams give character to the building’s circulation spaces and display the lifeblood of the facility. Informal gatherings are encouraged by alcoves located at prominent intersections and glass-walled conference rooms that terminate long corridors.

The project was a joint venture with Burt, Hill.

Project Data

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1985 – 1987
Carnegie Mellon University
150,000 sf


National Honor Award
Honor Award
Honor Award
Honor Award, Architectural Portfolio Awards
Silver Medal for Design Excellence