The Chair movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was The Chair filmed?

2021

About The Chair

The Chair premiered on Netflix in August 2021 to critical acclaim. The comedy-drama revolves around the fictional Pembroke University located in what looks much like New England.

The dramedy is created by Amanda Peet and penned by Annie Wyman, an academic/screenwriter. Packed with a sliding scale of emotions in terms of structure, the show takes viewers along a journey that’s filled with peaks, complications, and downright disasters.

Pembroke is built up as a lower-tier Ivy school with characteristic wood-paneled aesthetics. Right from its premiere episode, the series served as a conversation starter given how it explored issues like ageism, gender inequality, racism, and single parenthood.

The approach of satirizing some of these serious issues, without ridiculing anyone or becoming preachy, is one of the show’s strongest suits. Not to mention that it places everyone with an English degree on a pedestal.

It’s a fast-paced show packed with legions of information but the excellent storytelling and light-hearted moments equally carry the day. Viewers are also drawn to the dramedy because of its cast, with Sandra Oh portraying Ji-Yoon Kim who is a 40-something woman embracing the peaks that come with that season in life.

The show starts with one of Kim’s peaks, as she settles into her new appointment at Pembroke. It’s a big deal that she’s the first woman to chair the school’s English department but Kim’s endearingly awkward nature presents some challenges throughout.

Kim also feels a sense of responsibility to uplift others, and one story arc sees her help a young black colleague, Yaz McKay (Nana Mensah), to secure tenure. She also parents Ju-Hee “Ju Ju” (Everly Carganilla), who is the strong-willed daughter she adopted. At the backdrop, Kim also navigates the feelings she has towards her friend, colleague, and crush Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass).

The collegiate sweaters, low-lit libraries, and red-brick neo-Georgian architecture all contributed to creating the Academia aesthetic. However, The Chair filming locations deserve special mention because they set the scene for the magic to happen.

City Locations

Pittsburgh and Washington, PA

Location Types

Contemporary, Modern, Airports, Schools/ Colleges, Clubs/Bars

Location Styles

Contemporary Modern, Office Building Style, Modern Building

The Chair Locations

Besides just covering quite a lot in terms of social issues, the dramedy comes off like an overall familiar show with plenty of recognizable scenes, and it has a lot to do with the prestigious school setting.

However, don’t be fooled, while there is a real-life Pembroke University in North Carolina, the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania served as the primary filming location for The Chair. With only six episodes released for the first season, The Chair fans haven’t had trouble identifying the show’s production locations.

Two real-life campuses were the backdrop for the bulk of the filming. Most of the show’s establishing shots were recorded at the Washington and Jefferson College located in Washington, PA. The school’s Old Main academic building and its iconic twin towers appeared in the series.

The John A. Swanson Science Center, at Washington and Jefferson, was also the backdrop for several scenes in The Chair. Other school scenes were recorded at the Shadyside Campus at Chatham University. The show also recruited students and college instructors from both schools as some of the show’s extras.

The show’s authenticity and college-town feel were amplified by the scenes filmed around the Shadyside neighborhood. Here are some of the best scenes (spoiler alert) in The Chair and a rundown on their filming locations.

Fun fact:

Peet and Duplass, who stars in the series as Kim’s crush, started conceptualizing The Chair in 2006. It was just after Togetherness got canceled, and they knew that they wanted to team up on another project. They pitched several ideas, and in 2021 The Chair made its screen debut.

Kim settles down in her fancy office scene in The Chair

Chatham Academic Quad

Eric DiLucente, the show’s location manager, explained that they chose western Pennsylvania because of its picturesque college campuses. It couldn’t be truer than when you set eyes on the Chatham Academic Quad featured throughout the six episodes covered in snow.

It’s one of the sights seen in the first episode titled “Brilliant Mistake” when Kim made her way to her new fancy office at Pembroke. That’s also the scene where she found a package on her desk, and upon opening it, a plaque with an obscene phrase stared back at her.

The disturbing welcome doubled up as a brilliant opening scene which told viewers that there were plenty of similar zingers and wickedly funny scenes in store.

Interesting to note that the show’s crew dressed up the school settings to further amplify the academic aesthetic. They employed the use of collegiate-branded accessories including mugs, pennants, distinct crests, and even mousepads.

If you end up exploring the campus where the magic happened, you’ll find a snack bar at the Anderson Dining Hall located near the Chatham academic quad. Bus 71D, 64, 67, and 71B will get you to Chatham University.

Bill’s inappropriate salute scene in The Chair

Beaver Street

The first episode has a sequence where we see Bill on a scooter. It set the scene for one of Bill’s shortcomings, and that is the fact that he is perpetually late for class.

After all, he’s the guy who says things like “My face is my fortune, Baby. That’s why I’m totally broke.” In another scene, Bill arrives at class late, and to top it off, he ends up using a Nazi salute while teaching about fascism and absurdism.

Beaver Street, located in the Sewickley business district, appeared on the show a couple of times. Besides the first episode, the street was the setting for the second episode titled “The Faculty Party” which has a scene with a small, pink bike.

Broad street is yet another location found in Allegheny County that the show used to record some outdoor scenes. Located at 488-498 Broad Street, Wolcott Park is also featured in the series.

Allegheny County was also the setting for a majority of the residential scenes seen in the show. Visit The Chair location by hopping on the 17 or 14 bus, and the Blue subway will also get you to Beaver Street.

Bill drunk at the airport scene in The Chair

Pittsburgh International Airport

The first episode includes a scene where Professor Bill is drunk at the airport. It was after he had bid his daughter a heartfelt goodbye as she headed off to college.

Getting intoxicated sparks off a series of events starting with Bill getting late for class. When he finally arrives at Pembroke and goes about teaching his class, he accidentally shows his students an intimate video of his late wife.

Bill’s conduct is opposite to Kim who tells her students things like “when I get up in the morning, I’m excited to come to class, not because I get to teach you, but because I get to learn from you.”

The show used Pittsburgh International Airport to film that particular scene. It’s located at 1000 Airport Boulevard, if you are curious enough to check out The Chair location, grab a meal at Buford’s Kitchen or the Bellfarm Kitchen. There’s also a Dunkin’ Donuts on site.

The West Busway (28X Airport Flyer) running from Downtown Pittsburgh, and operated by the Allegheny County Port Authority, will get you to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Joan confronts a negative reviewer scene in The Chair

Jennie King Mellon Library, Chatham University

Joan Hambling (Holland Taylor) is a senior faculty member who is also a member of the English department. The fourth episode titled “Don’t Kill Bill” sees her trying to get to the bottom of the negative reviews she’s been receiving online.

With the help of the IT guy, Joan uncovers the identity of the negative reviewer who hasn’t had the best things to say about her on “RateMyProfessor”. That’s after a series of hilarious scenes when she tries to go incognito during her meetups with the IT guy in the library.

After decoding some of the negative reviewer's messages, Joan hilariously asked, “I’m what he thinks about?” She later confronts the culprit outside the library.

The Jennie King Mellon Library served as The Chair film set for those specific scenes. It’s a cubic-shaped structure that dates back to 1973. While filming in the library, the art department added some charm by including grandfather clocks and antique furnishings.

Going back to 1869, Chatham University operated as a women’s college. That has since changed, and Chatham is now a mixed-gender campus. Get to the Jennie King Mellon Library at Chatham via the 64, 67, 71D, or 71B bus.

Bill and Kim take Ju Ju bowling scene in The Chair

Alpine Club Lanes

In the second episode titled “The Faculty Party,” there’s a scene where Bill and Kim take Ju Ju bowling. It was after Ju Ju went missing, and after tracking her down, she lashed out saying that Kim isn’t her mother and Habi (Ji Lee) isn’t her grandfather.

As someone who told her students, “You don’t have to have an answer. I’m more interested in your questions than your answers,” Kim was able to diffuse the situation.

Located at 735 Jefferson Avenue, Washington PA, the Alpine Club Lane offered its premises to The Chair production team for the bowling scene. The establishment is family-friendly and they open seven days a week but you’ll want to check up on the precise hours.

Faculty gives no-confidence vote against Kim scene in The Chair

Falk Hall, Chatham University

Several of the scenes seen in The Chair were shot at Chatham Shadyside’s Falk Hall. Amongst them were the scenes where the faculty met and decided to give Kim a vote of no confidence in the sixth episode.

It was one of the show’s heavy episodes with Bill losing his job at the University and Kim nominating Joan to replace her as the head of the English department. The episode also leaves audiences with a few cliffhangers, as Bill refuses to take the settlement offered by the school and vows to fight for his job.

He also offers to babysit Ju Ju as a way of making ends meet. It’s even more sentimental when his actions prove that he heard his daughter when she told him, “Get your sh*t together.”

Located at Woodland Rd, Pittsburgh, PA, get to Falk Hall via the 71D, 28X, 64, or 71B bus.

Conclusion

There’s no word whether Netflix has greenlit The Chair production for a second season. Given that it was marketed as a mini-series, it’s anyone’s guess if the show will return to our screens for a second season. Thankfully, there are lists of the show’s filming locations that you can visit to quench your curiosity.

A visit to either Chatham University or Washington & Jefferson College is worth it, if only for the bragging rights of having snapped some photos against the red-brick buildings. However, it’s best to find out ahead of time if both institutions welcome visitors to freely explore their grounds.