Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh
Topping out at 42 stories, the Cathedral of Learning — or "Cathy" as the locals call her — isn't (and never was) the tallest building in the skyscraper-friendly town of Pittsburgh.
But as the soaring centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh, the Cathedral of Learning scores high marks in other areas: at 535 feet, it's both the tallest building devoted to education in the Western Hemisphere and the second tallest gothic-styled structure in the world. Not too shabby at all. (The tallest educational building in the world, by the way, is the main building at Moscow State University, which, despite have a few less floors is roughly 250 feet taller.) Commissioned in 1921 and officially dedicated in 1937, the Cathedral is as dazzling as it is dizzying — a steel-framed testament to American ingenuity realized in limestone, wrought iron and stained glass. As the university notes, this most conspicuous architectural icon was designed by Charles Z. Klauder to "carry the message that education was the result of aspiring to great heights." As lovely and inspirational as this all is, it's seriously hard to imagine hitting the books in a historic skyscraper masquerading as an ornate European cathedral — a literal temple of knowledge. Finals schminals … we get lost in an extended Hogwartian daydream just looking at the place.