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Physical Plant Records

Identifier: 0000-0016

Scope and Contents note

The Physical Plant Collection contains materials related to the planning, construction, and maintenance of the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, as well as of other properties owned by the university, but not connected to the main campus. These materials include correspondence, financial records, construction reports, blueprints, photographs, maps, and proposals. Most of the items are in good physical shape, in addition to papers and blueprints stored in file folders, there are also a number of photographs housed in albums, as well as books and large construction reports that also are not in folders.

Where applicable, photo series have been removed and relocated to the general photograph collection.

The collection is divided into two series, building and general. The building series relates to specific buildings and their correspondence, blueprints, and records. The general series contains the records regarding campus properties, camps, and other not central areas. It also contains a subseries relating to the establishment of Carnegie Tecnhical Schools and the original proposal of Palmer and Hornbostel.


  • 1900-2016

Biographical/Historical note

The Physical Plant has been a part of Carnegie Mellon University since the beginning of the institution. It was needed to provide a wide variety of services such as maintenance of the buildings and grounds, custodial services, and delivering heat and electrical power to the campus.

The first Physical Plant building was completed in November 1905 and was a small, one-story building on the western edge of the campus. This building served during the first few years of the school until it was replaced by Machinery Hall, now Hamerschlag Hall. Construction was started in 1912 and completed in 1913. The building's distinctive tower was originally built in order to hide the smokestack on the roof and provide a more pleasing picture of the campus from the other side of the hollow.

The first head of the Physical Plant was John P. Weidlein, who was Chief Engineer in charge of Buildings starting in 1905. In 1910, Weidlein was named Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. As the campus continued to grow through the first half of the 20th century, the Buildings and Grounds department also expanded to take care of the various needs of the campus. By the 1950's, it was under the control of the Division of Finance and Business Management, which today is the Office of the Vice-President for Business Affairs.

In 1964, Buildings and Grounds was officially given the name of "Physical Plant." It continued to provide the same crucial services as in the past, but those services in the 1960's and 1970's were scattered among various locations in the campus and were no longer centrally located in Machinery Hall. In addition, some of the services provided by the Physical Plant were outsourced to private companies in order to save money.

In the 1980's under President Cyert, the university once again took full control of the Physical Plant and its operations. In addition, it was considered important to centralize the operations and locate them in a separate facility. This would free up precious space in academic buildings for classrooms and research areas. The new Physical Plant building was constructed in the Bureau of Mines complex on the western side of the campus and was designed to blend in with Henry Hornbostel's original Beaux Arts architecture. An open house for the new building was held on December 7, 1988. In 1994, the Physical Plant was renamed Facilities Management Services in order to reflect its role not only in maintaining current campus buildings and grounds, but also in planning the future growth of the university.


6.0 Linear feet (6 boxes)




The Physical Plant has provided a wide variety of services including maintencence of the buildings and grounds, custodial duties, and delivering heat and electrical power to the campus. This collection of papers contains the records of campus building projects and activities as well as the establishment of Carnegie Technical Schools and general property information.
Physical Plant Records, 1900-2016
In Progress
Julia Corrin
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Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(412) 268-5021