Carnegie Mellon University
September 28, 2022

A New Era for the Miller Institute for Contemporary Art

Dear Members of the CMU Community,

I am delighted to announce a new significant leadership grant of $15 million from the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation that will allow CMU’s acclaimed Miller Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) to move to a prominent location across from the Carnegie Museums, in the new Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences.

The ICA has always advanced culture and CMU’s educational landscape by creating opportunities for conversation and exchange through transformative encounters with contemporary art. Now, we are excited to explore new directions under the leadership of College of Fine Arts Dean Mary Ellen Poole, School of Art Head Charlie White, and ICA Director Elizabeth Chodos, as well as our exceptionally talented CFA faculty, staff and students.

This new location will empower the ICA to create new synergies with our Oakland arts and cultural partners. By doubling its gallery space to 25,000 square feet, the ICA will be able to expand its audience, which currently totals 10,000 visitors annually. In its new home, the ICA will increase the number of exhibitions, lectures, screenings and live performances programmed each year, expanding its impact as an educational and artistic space for our community and our students, as well as a focal point for the arts in Pittsburgh. Given its proximity, the ICA will be able to explore new opportunities for collaboration with the Carnegie Museum of Art and add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood at the corner of Forbes Avenue and South Craig Street.

We are grateful to Lea Simonds for her invaluable service as a member of the CMU Board of Trustees since 2004, and her generous support includes numerous College of Fine Arts initiatives, including student fellowships, extracurricular experiences, and the Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe) Network. Among its many contributions, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation endowed the Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair, and has provided support for CMU’s Metro21 and Traffic21 institutes as well as the lead grant for the Hillman Center for Future Generation Technologies in the Gates-Hillman Complex.

At this new landmark location on Forbes Avenue, the ICA will be one of the marquee elements of the new Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences, an expansive project dedicated to the future of science that was announced last year and made possible by a lead grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences will contain about 180,000 square feet of flexible teaching and classroom space for the Mellon College of Science, including the Biological Sciences and Chemistry departments, as well as the Neuroscience Institute. The facility is one piece of the university’s larger future of science initiative, which also includes the off-site Carnegie Mellon University Cloud Lab — the first academic cloud lab in the world — and strategic investments in professorships, undergraduate research funds, graduate fellowships and other priorities to accelerate research in critical areas ripe for world-changing breakthroughs. The Board of Trustees recently approved plans to further expand the building with 110,000 square feet of space for the School of Computer Science. We expect members of the Department of Computational Biology, the Language Technologies Institute and the Department of Machine Learning will relocate to the new facility.

With so many fields under one roof, this may be the university’s most interdisciplinary building to date, sparking ideas and partnerships among foundational scientists and computer scientists — as well as artists — that tackle society’s most complex challenges.

The design process is underway, led by Campus Design and Facility Development and ZGF Architects, in partnership with faculty and staff leaders from the three colleges. We expect construction to begin next year, with occupancy in fall 2026.

The grant for the ICA is the latest gift to be announced as part of Make Possible: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University, which has a goal of raising $2 billion in private philanthropic support. To date, a remarkable community of more than 57,000 supporters has contributed $1.94 billion to the campaign in support of the university’s strategic priorities.

On behalf of the entire CMU community, let me once again thank Lea Simonds, the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation for their many years of support. They are important pillars of both our Pittsburgh and CMU communities, and we are grateful to count them among our biggest champions.

I want to thank and congratulate Mary Ellen Poole, the Stanley and Marcia Gumberg Dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Charlie White, the Regina and Marlin Miller Head of the School of Art, for their continuing leadership of our extraordinary arts programs, and commend Elizabeth Chodos for her compelling vision of the future of the ICA. I want to once again thank the Board of Trustees of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, especially its director, Sam Reiman, for their lead grant to support the Hall of Sciences complex and its expansion. I want to thank Rebecca Doerge, the Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science, and Martial Hebert, dean of the School of Computer Science, for their leadership and collaboration around this project. And lastly, I thank our own Board of Trustees for their support of this vision.

We look forward to sharing more about this transformational project as it takes shape in the months ahead


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair