Penn State submits final plans for new liberal arts research and education building

Design rendering of the planned Liberal Arts Education and Research Center near Fischer Road on the Penn State University campus. Provided by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Penn State plans to begin construction this summer on a new six-story liberal arts education and research center on the University Park campus.

The State College Planning Commission last week reviewed the final layout plan for the 142,622-square-foot building, which will be located on the current site of a parking lot between the Mateer and Ford buildings along Fischer Road.

The university board will first need to approve the final plans and spending funds before construction begins. When the project was presented in 2019 and the board appointed Bohlin Cywinski Jackson as the project architect, the estimated cost was $ 113 million to be funded primarily through capital budget allocations. of State.

When completed, the new building will house three departments, three institutes and research centers and two schools. The Department of Sociology and Criminology, the Institute for Population Research and the Center for Criminal Justice Research will move to the LART Center from the Oswald Tower. The Department of Political Science, the School of Public Policy and the McCourtney Institute for Democracy will be relocating from Pond Lab. The anthropology department will leave the Carpenter building and the School of International Affairs will leave the Katz building.

“This new space will create dynamic learning opportunities for our students, stimulate even more innovative research encompassing a range of disciplines among our faculty, and strengthen the college’s reputation as one of the country’s premier liberal arts institutions. “Clarence Lang, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, said when announcing the project in 2019.” Most students at Penn State, regardless of their specialty, take almost a third of their courses in the liberal arts, so it’s safe to say that almost all Penn State students benefit in some way from the construction of this new building.

After the LART Center opens, Penn State plans to demolish the Oswald Tower and possibly replace it with a green space between Pond Lab and Burrowes Building.

Design rendering of the planned Liberal Arts Education and Research Center near Fischer Road on the Penn State University campus. Provided by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

The 85-foot-tall building – which will have an exterior of brick, limestone and glass wall systems – will house classrooms, research and teaching laboratories, museum spaces, offices for faculty and graduate students. , as well as administrative support areas.

Mark Saville, HRG project engineer, told the planning committee that all walkways and building entrances will be fully ADA accessible, with elevator access to each floor.

The design will feature several health and safety measures boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including automatic doors, non-contact toilet entrances, non-contact plumbing fixtures and a ventilation system providing 100% outside air in the rooms. laboratories and museum spaces.

It will be built to Pennsylvania state guidelines to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and will use the university’s new water reuse system. High efficiency aluminum window and curtain wall systems will make maximum use of natural light and the roof is designed to accommodate a future solar panel

The landscaping will focus “on native and naturalized species which are very adaptable and require minimal maintenance,” said Saville. Trees throughout the avenue du Parc corridor will be maintained, as well as additional screens and landscaping

Bike racks will be located at the east and west entrances to the building, in addition to the covered bicycle stalls on the Nittany Bridge. The paths connecting the LART center are part of the campus pedestrian / bicycle network.

Stormwater runoff will be managed using an underground detention center.

The driveway behind Mateer will be extended for a service access route to the new building, which will have eight ADA and service parking spaces.

Design rendering of the planned Liberal Arts Education and Research Center near Fischer Road on the Penn State University campus. Provided by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Saville said the project contractor will maintain vehicle and pedestrian access along Fischer Road during construction, although some temporary sidewalk closures near the site are planned.

He added that the construction will have no impact on PennDOT or the borough roads except for the sanitary sewer connection work at Park Avenue, for which PennDOT has already approved a permit to occupy the highway. .

The parking lot between the Ford and Mateer buildings at Penn State will be the site of a new liberal arts education and research center. File photo from StateCollege.com

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