Traditional, yet contemporary!

The Korean Heritage Room combines 14th century Korean culture and modern technology.

The room is inspired by Myeongnyundang, Hall of Enlightenment, the main lecture hall of Sungkyunkwan, the Royal Academy which was built in 1603-1604 during King Sunjo’s reign of the Joseon Dynasty in the capital city, Seoul. The Royal Academy was Korea’s foremost institution of higher education and produced many elite scholars. Today, Myeongnyundang remains a prominent historic monument. As a reminder of Korea’s rich history of educational endeavors, the Korean Heritage Room is modeled after the main lecture hall.


Figure A

Figure A is an illustration of Crown Prince Hyomyeong’s first day in Sungkyunkwan in 1817. It took place in Myeongnyundang. While Crown Prince Hyomyeong bows to his head master, other students and royal guests stand in the courtyard. Even today, the place is used for special ceremonial events.

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The Korean Heritage Room reflects the core aesthetic principle of Korea’s traditional architecture, the beautiful harmony of the lines provided by traditional wooden beams, pillars, and ceilings. All the building materials were procured and crafted in Korea and shipped to Pittsburgh. Korean carpentry artisans, all specialists in traditional Korean architecture, flew to Pittsburgh to reassemble them over the summer of 2015.


While the room illustrates the core aesthetics of Korea’s traditional architecture, it is also equipped with cutting-edge teaching technology, including a 82” Samsung smart HD LCD monitor that has voice recognition. Designed and produced by Mr. Ji Hoon Ha, desks and chairs are made of hard oak. They were tested to endure more than 250 lbs. Desks are made congenial to laptop and tablet.


The KHR illustrates traditional wood post and lintel architecture with vertical columns and horizontal beams and purlins, plus countless rafters that comprise the roof frame. Connections were completed without any nail. Each element was securely fitted to one another with wood pins and brackets.


Located at the center peak of the ceiling are two carved wooden phoenixes, a work of master wood sculptor Mr. Geun Young Song. They were inspired by the central hall of a royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Chasing the pearl of wisdom, they symbolize Korea’s rich history of educational endeavors. 


Design and Construction Team

Primary Architects:
Minah Lee, Architect, Coparch Studio, Seoul
Bong Ryol Kim, Professor, Korea National University of Arts

From Arumjigi Culture Keepers (Seoul):
Young Suk Jang, Project Manager
Ji Hie Shin, Project Coordinator

From Pittsburgh:
Kenneth K/ Lee, AIA, Architect of Record, Pittsburgh
E. Maxine Bruhns, Director of NRIEP, University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh Facilities Management
Richard A. Vogel, Project Manager for Construction
Adrienne Spallone, RA, Project Architect for Planning and Design
James M. Huber, Volpatt Construction, Project Manager