At a university known for majestic gothic architecture and soaring ceilings that give it the aura of Hogwarts, one dining hall stands out as a curious feat of architectural engineering. Pierson College’s dining hall is characteristically different from Yale’s other dining halls in that it is much more colonial in design. But what makes it even more striking is its ceiling, which lacks any sort of visible buttress support. Pierson was founded in 1933 and was built in Georgian-style architecture, its prominent tower being inspired by Independence Hall in Philadelphia. However, among a number of Pierson’s staff members, explanations for this feat are far and few between.
So, how does the roof of the Pierson dining hall stay up? Instead of wooden trusses supported on brick walls, Pierson uses large steel beams to support the roof. The brick you see from the courtyard is just a veneer, applied to the surface of the building for obvious aesthetic reasons. The gravity-defying ceiling is then hung from the steel beams in the roof structure. No magic here—just some advanced engineering, Georgian-style.