In my Pittsburgh’s Beauty off the Beaten Path series I describe a particularly beautiful, but underappreciated, spot in the city.  I hope these posts will give you inspiration for future adventures and will remind you that Pittsburgh, for all its industrial buildings and soot-covered past, is a city bursting with beauty.  An Introduction to the series is located here.

We recently made a very exciting discovery during the 2013 Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival in Oakland.  At one point during the festivities, my children wandered off toward the University of Pittsburgh’s Frick Fine Arts Building.  Since I figured the kids probably needed some time away from the mayhem and I was curious to explore the building anyway, we wandered in. Wow!  We found something really cool…

The Nicholas Lochoff Cloister
The Nicholas Lochoff Cloister

The Frick Fine Arts Building has a beautiful interior courtyard that I’ve never seen after all of my years in Pittsburgh.  You enter the courtyard through the wide hallways of the Nicholas Lochoff Cloister where scale reproductions of the frescoes of 15th century Italian masters grace the walls.  This Cloister surrounds the garden on all four sides with glass doors that lead into it at regular intervals.  The garden is designed to resemble an Italian Renaissance-style formal courtyard with a central water feature and carefully manicured boxwood hedges and topiary.  It is pictured below:

The Frick Courtyard
The Frick Courtyard

Although the space is actually pretty small, it was the perfect size for my kids.  And it was perfect size for me too!  I was able to keep them in view the entire time while happily relaxing in the sunshine.  And since it’s completely contained, I didn’t have to worry about them running off and disrupting studious academics in the building!

fountain kids

They ran up and down the pathways, gazed at the fountain, and had lots of fun walking along the steps that lead down into the courtyard (note: probably not handicap or stroller-friendly for this reason).

The garden is nicely insulated from the busyness of Oakland.  It is extraordinarily peaceful with the gentle trickle of the fountain, the careful symmetry, and the beautiful artwork visible through the glass. Long ago, I wandered through Italy with one of my greatest friends in the world and in the Frick Courtyard, I almost felt like I was back there…

Although this is certainly not a place to spend an entire morning, we spent a very lovely 30 minutes enjoying it.  And for those individuals who work in Oakland, it could also be a lovely spot to eat lunch and unwind in the warmer months.  I hope you get to enjoy it, too!

© Copyright Nadine Champsi, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

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