Top 5 Tallest University Buildings in the United States

Cathedral from Sailors and Soldiers

The appearance of a university’s campus can have a significant impact on the school’s character, not to mention the first impressions of prospective students. If you’ve ever paid a visit to a college and found that its educational buildings all look like the backside of a Walmart, you’ve probably taken your sterling GPA and money elsewhere.

Then again, maybe you’ve visited a university with immaculate groundskeeping, or with distinctive buildings that all look like they have stories to tell. Or: maybe the sheer size of the buildings on campus left a profound impact on you.

If you appreciate educational buildings that seem to be physically reaching toward higher learning, this list of the country’s five tallest university buildings may pique your interest. Maybe it’s better to judge a college on the strength of its degree programs than for the height of its buildings, but there’s something to be said for first impressions.

1. Cathedral of Learning – Pittsburg, PA

Cathedral from Sailors and Soldiers

In a city already filled with landmarks, the Cathedral of Learning, located on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, easily ranks as one of the most inspiring. Standing 535 feet tall, the Cathedral has stood as the centerpiece of the university since it was built in 1926.

The building is home to administrative offices and classrooms and houses over 2,000 rooms. It also has the distinction of being the second-tallest gothic-style building in the world.

2. Wabash Building – Chicago, IL

Wasbash Building

If you’ve been searching for a truly unique college campus to call home, look no further than Roosevelt University. The Wabash Building, better known as the “vertical campus,” is an ultra-modern 32-story academic building that houses laboratories, classrooms, administrative offices, fitness facilities, and dorm rooms.

The building measures an imposing 496 feet, making it the sixth-tallest academic building in the world.

3. Rhodes Tower – Cleveland, OH

Rhodes Tower

Located on Cleveland State University’s campus, Rhodes Tower once held the #2 spot for tallest academic building in the US. It lost the title to the Wabash Building in 2012. Even so, Rhodes Tower is no slouch; it measures an impressive 363 feet, with 21 floors.

The first floor of the building is dedicated entirely to the college library, while many of the upper floors house administrative offices. Construction on the tower concluded in 1971, and takes its name from a former governor of Ohio, James Rhodes.

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4. University Hall – Chicago, IL


University Hall, located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, is distinctive for a number of reasons. The first is that it was designed in the “Brutalist” architectural style, meaning that it sports a utilitarian, fortress-like design.

The second is that the building actually widens toward the top; the building, which stands 338 feet tall, is twenty feet wider at the top than it is at ground floor.

5. Edison Building – Philadelphia, PA

Edison Building

Thomas Jefferson University is home to the Edison Building, which, measuring in at 325 feet, trails Chicago’s University Hall by just 13 feet. Construction wrapped in 1927, and the building sports the popular art deco style that typified high-rise architecture in the twenties and thirties.

Thomas Jefferson University also has the distinction of being one of the nation’s most highly regarded online colleges, in addition to its on-campus programs.