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Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
August 24, 2004

Carnegie Mellon's School of Design Students Create a Café for The Hillel JUC Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University School of Design students Catherine Schaberg (senior) and Carin Rogoff (junior) designed the Anna L. and Irene V. Kaplan Israel Café, which also includes the Sheila and Alex Cohen Israel Marketplace, for the Hillel Jewish University Center (JUC) of Pittsburgh. Located in the Joseph Stern building at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Craig Street in the heart of Oakland, the Hillel JUC will open the café from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 8, 2004. The project was executed under the direction of Mark Baskinger, assistant professor in the School of Design.

"The project was a great opportunity for our students to extend beyond their discipline-specific training to apply their design thinking to an interior environment," Baskinger said. "The students' goal in creating a warm and modern solution was achieved by developing a visual palette of color, textures, furniture and elements that respected the existing architectural structure of the building and also embodied the character and culture of the institution."

The new nonprofit café has transformed the physical space from a mere foyer to a warmer and more personal Israeli-style coffeehouse. In doing so, a gray and vacant space has now been converted into a cool, bohemian coffeehouse that will also be providing a full selection of Israeli snack foods, teas and coffees. The Israel Café will host monthly live bands, weekly live jazz performances and a regular schedule of social and educational events. The new café, furnished with plush new couches, a wide selection of the latest magazines and free access to high-speed wireless Internet service, will also serve as a lounge and study space for Jewish students who are looking for an alternative to crowded and less attractive communal spaces on campus.

"We are both proud and excited for what these students have achieved," said Aaron Weil, executive director of the Hillel JUC. "Not only have they created a Œhome away from home' for their fellow students, but they have already begun to see how their hard work is now causing others to look up and examine how they too can be benefiting from the many talents of area students."

The success of the Israel Café has prompted other community groups to reevaluate their own spaces. The Jewish Family and Children's Services of Pittsburgh has recently inquired about enlisting Carnegie Mellon students to design a new space.

"The representatives of Hillel were encouraging, cooperative and extremely supportive of the students' plans. From an academic perspective, they provided a great learning opportunity for our students that concretely reinforced the issues and problems discussed in our design courses," Baskinger said.

The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center is the umbrella organization for all Jewish campus life in Pittsburgh. Serving approximately 4,000 Jewish students on eight area campuses, the Hillel JUC acts as a "community of communities" in empowering and mentoring student leaders to create Jewish communities around a wide variety of issues of concern to Jewish life. Founded in Pittsburgh more than 60 years ago, the Hillel JUC moved into its new home at the Joseph Stern Building in the summer of 2001. The JUC is a beneficiary agency of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and is fully accredited by Hillel International: The Foundation for Campus Jewish Life. For more information on the Hillel JUC visit

The School of Design is one of five schools in Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts. The College of Fine Arts is a community of artists and professionals that encompasses the schools of Architecture, Art, Design, Drama and Music, and their associated centers and programs. For more information on the School of Design or the College of Fine Arts, contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or email


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