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Assistant Vice Chancellor of Design Stewardship

University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date posted
Oct 19, 2023

Our Client

Founded in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy, the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is one of the nation’s oldest institutions of higher education and is now a state-related research university with a global reach. Consistently ranked among top institutions of higher learning in the United States, Pitt continues to build upon a rich legacy of innovation and intellectual exploration within the University as well as a history of collaboration with partners in the city and region of Pittsburgh. Pitt is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), which comprises 66 preeminent doctorate-granting research institutions in North America. Pitt offers a broad curriculum of more than 520 academic programs for more than 33,000 students through the efforts of over 13,000 faculty members, research associates, and staff members. Since its founding, the University of Pittsburgh has proudly cultivated a community shaped by ambition, innovation, and excellence as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education and a national leader in science, engineering, and health research.


Embedded within the City of Pittsburgh, the University includes four regional campuses: Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville. Each of the regional campuses offers the advantages and environment of liberal arts colleges along with the resources and prestige of a major research university.


The mission of Pitt is to:

  • Provide high-quality undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences and professional fields, with emphasis upon those of special benefit to the citizens of Pennsylvania.
  • Offer superior graduate programs in the arts and sciences and the professions that respond to the needs of Pennsylvania, as well as to the broader needs of the nation and the world.
  • Engage in research, artistic, and scholarly activities that advance learning through the extension of the frontiers of knowledge and creative endeavor.
  • Cooperate with industrial and governmental institutions to transfer knowledge in science, technology, and health care.
  • Offer continuing education programs adapted to the personal enrichment, professional upgrading, and career advancement interests and needs of adult Pennsylvanians.
  • Make available to local communities and public agencies the expertise of the University in ways that are consistent with the primary teaching and research functions and contribute to social, intellectual, and economic development in the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

With over 4,500 full-time and 700 part-time faculty members serving almost 25,000 undergraduate students and over 9,000 graduate/doctoral students, Pitt’s large scale still offers a 14:1 student/faculty ratio. Faculty members have expanded knowledge in the humanities and sciences earning prestigious honors. Pitt students have earned Rhodes, Goldwater, Marshall, and Truman Scholarships, among others. Alumni have pioneered MRI and TV, won Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, led corporations and universities, served in government and the military, conquered Hollywood and The New York Times bestsellers list, and won Super Bowls and NBA championships.



Pittsburgh, PA


Job Summary

The Assistant Vice Chancellor of Design Stewardship (AVC), within the Office of Planning, Design and Construction (PDC), is responsible for the creation and maintenance of building design standards in consultation with a broad array of University stakeholders, most notably Facilities Management, in addition to the AVC’s own staff including the University Interior Designer, PDC Sustainability Coordinator, Environmental Graphic Designer, and architecture and engineering collaborators.  Under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor for PDC, the AVC creates and collaborates with a Design Review Committee and is responsible for oversight of project design and drawing reviews for capital and preservation projects.

Working with project managers and client representatives, the AVC provides essential guidance in the selection of architecture and engineering firms for major capital projects of architectural significance. The AVC of Design Stewardship will engage a myriad of University stakeholders prior to making selection recommendations to the Vice Chancellor for Planning, Design and Construction. The AVC’s recommendations will be heavily weighted, but final selection decisions will rest with the VC for Planning, Design and Construction.  Articulating a strong rationale for the recommendation, as well as guiding the stakeholder committee through an informed selection process is critical.

Working in collaboration with those in PDC, the AVC of Design Stewardship provides input on plans and long-range capital plans to ensure responsible stewardship of campus assets and appropriate siting, massing, and aesthetics of buildings and open spaces. Projects shall be identified, estimated for probable cost, and prioritized in order to most appropriately allocate University resources, taking into consideration factors such as current condition, reliability, age, flexibility, priority, and adherence to major guiding campus documents such as the campus master plan and the strategic plan.

The AVC of Design Stewardship is expected to conduct all responsibilities with the highest degree of professionalism. The incumbent must demonstrate strong skills in the technical side of the profession along with the ability to effectively direct teams to achieve project goals and objectives. Exceptional verbal and written communication skills are required in order to effectively communicate with all levels within the University, along with external communities and public authorities. Supervisory duties include the University Interior Designer, Sustainability Coordinator, and Environmental Graphic Designer. The AVC also works collaboratively with and provides guidance and direction for architecture and engineering collaborators.

With unprecedented recent design efforts on the upper campus, the AVC of Design Stewardship will champion the redevelopment of the main and lower campus, making connections whilst invigorating the urban public realm – campus fabric.



Responsibilities & Performance Standards

  • AVC of Design Stewardship (40% of time)



A direct report to the VC of Planning, Design, and Construction, the AVC of Design Stewardship serves as the “aesthetic conscience” for the Oakland and Regional campuses. The AVC is a newly created position with a current staff of three as well as an initial three open positions.



Performance Standard:


The AVC interacts with top level administration within the University of Pittsburgh and provides support for land-use, zoning (within and beyond the EMI District), strategic planning, long range campus planning and development, development of capital improvement projects, and establishing and maintaining campus design standards.


The AVC of Design Stewardship is responsible for the creation, enhancement, and development of distinctive and welcoming campus environments as well as participating in the development of campus master plans for the Oakland, Bradford, Greensburg, and Johnstown campuses and other University properties. The position supports strategic leadership for University initiatives, ensuring alignment between strategic plans, long-range physical planning, and capital improvement project planning. The AVC of Design Stewardship provides design consultation and review of the architectural, landscape, and environmental designs, aesthetics, and technical aspects of the project; reviews the project deliverables and documentation (as needed) through the life of the project to confirm design intent, conformance with planning principles, and adherence to University and local design standards, codes, regulations and ordinances, as well as best practices for sustainability, resilience, and universal access; socializes and garners support for designs with University leaders, and appointed committee members for significant major capital projects.




The AVC of Design Stewardship supports University strategic planning and participates in campus design outreach, and site planning efforts and participates in the preparation and presentation of materials for Capital Improvement Initiatives to community groups (Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC), Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID), Oakland Civic Center Historic District (OCCHD), Hill District Consensus Group (HDCG), and Schenley Farms Historic District (SFCA)), and other registered community organizations, peer institutions, regulatory agencies, potential donors, and funding agencies.


The AVC of Design Stewardship works with the AVC of Planning and their staff to provide leadership in improving space utilization and efficiency and works with University of Pittsburgh Project and Construction management units during the development and construction of Capital Improvement Projects. The AVC is responsible for adherence to University and local design standards and is the technical authority for code compliance to include life safety, accessibility and similar requirements.
The AVC of Design Stewardship will represent the University on regulatory matters pertaining to design and construction projects as well as with community constituents on matters pertaining to design and construction projects in conjunction with the Senior Planning staff on planning and zoning issues.



  • Architectural Oversight/Strategic Advisor (30% of time)



Working in collaboration with Planning, Design, and Construction personnel and under the supervision of the VC for Planning, Design, & Construction, the AVC develops and implements the University of Pittsburgh’s design standards related to architecture. The AVC has oversight of the work of the Interior Designer, Environmental Graphic Designer, and PDC Sustainability Coordinator.


Performance Standard:


The AVC performs ongoing reviews, updates, and revisions to the architectural design standards within the Facilities Management Professional Design Manual to ensure compliance with functional standards, sustainable design principles, building codes, and regulatory requirements. The AVC ensures that established standards align with the University’s mission and vision.


  • Ensures that the Professional Design Manual incorporates current Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles for projects pursuing LEED certification. Ensures that new materials and technologies are considered and investigated and, when proven advantageous and reliable, incorporated into the Professional Design Manual.
  • Works in collaboration with FM Administration and Planning, Design, and Construction personnel to develop annual and long-term capital budgets to ensure responsible stewardship of campus facilities and infrastructure in accordance with established funding models.
  • Performs reviews of applicable building codes, ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal regulations – interpreting and providing direction on codes and planning issues as necessary.


  • Management of Projects’ Design Intent (20% of time)



Working under the supervision of the VC of Planning, Design, & Construction, the AVC manages projects’ design intent for a variety of studies and design projects for the campus, reviews the work of the University Interior Designer, Environmental Graphic Designer, and the PDC Sustainability Coordinator, compiles reports on buildings and participates with FM in the Sightlines project.




Performance Standard:


Uses established architectural design and construction protocols.



  • Supports and promotes management initiatives; other responsibilities as assigned (10% of time)

Performance Standard:


The AVC is required to directly review and comment on complex projects as assigned by the VC of Planning, Design, and Construction in compliance with the Project Management Manual, Professional Design Manual, and all other Pitt procedures and requirements.




  • Minimum Education Level Required – BArch or MArch
  • Minimum Related Experience Level Required – 10+ years of experience

Additional Education and/or Experience Essential to the Position:

  • Master’s Degree in Architecture from an accredited School. 10+ years of experience in architectural project design and review for large, institutional projects.

Required Licenses/Certifications:

  • Professional registration in Pennsylvania required (or ability to obtain within 6 months of hire).
  • Experience in large scale project review and understanding in an institutional setting preferred.
  • LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) Certification preferred.

Additional Qualifications & Expectations:

  • Ability to plan and schedule work credibly and logically.
  • High degree of analytical skills required.
  • Accountability for working with Project Managers on budgets for their projects and design intent of the selected design firm.
  • The position is responsible for interacting with public officials and bodies as the University representative for code compliance and architecture.
  • Reviews all projects for architectural design standards, code, and master plan conformity. Serves as the primary back up to the VC of Planning, Design, and Construction.
  • Serves as the day-to-day work supervisor of the staff in Design, including an Interior Designer, Environmental Graphic Designer, and Sustainability Coordinator, works collaboratively with and provides guidance and direction for architecture and engineering staff.
  • Has contact with all departments in the University. Ability to communicate technical concepts to a non-technical audience.

Essential Functions:

  • Expert knowledge of architectural systems as related to a large urban campus. Excellent customer relations skills and public speaking skills. Ability to use Microsoft Office as well as design review software.

Description and Frequency of Physical Effort:

  • Mobility to access all portions of the campus, including “hazardous” areas and regional campuses.


Helpful Links



About the Search

The University of Pittsburgh is conducting a national search with the assistance of Helbling, a ZRG company (, an executive search firm specializing in the areas of facilities management, construction, engineering, and real estate development.

Please Submit Resumes or Nominations to 

Helbling, a ZRG company

8000 Brooktree Road, Suite 100

Wexford, PA  15090


Matt Lesher, Senior Associate




O: (724) 935-7500 x114

C: (412) 508-6933 

The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. EOE, including disability/veterans.


The University of Pittsburgh is committed to the full inclusion of all qualified individuals. In keeping with

our commitment, the University of Pittsburgh will take the steps to assure that people with disabilities are

provided reasonable accommodations. Accordingly, if reasonable accommodation is required to fully

participate in the job application or interview process, to perform the essential functions of the position,

and/or to receive all other benefits and privileges of employment, please contact The Office of Disability

Resource Services at or 412-648-7890. The University of Pittsburgh retains the right

to change or assign other duties to this position.

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to championing all aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within our community. This commitment is a fundamental value of the University and is crucial in helping us advance our mission, which includes attracting and retaining diverse workforces. We will continue to create and maintain an environment that allows individuals to discover, belong, contribute, and grow, while honoring the experiences, perspectives, and unique identities of all.

The University of Pittsburgh requires all Pitt constituents (employees and students) on all campuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exemption. Visit to learn more.

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