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Penn State Construction Update: Your Guide To What’s Happening On Campus

It seems like there’s always construction happening around campus. With major projects occurring left and right, Penn State’s OPP (the Office of the Physical Plant) constantly has its hands full. Their fearless PR leader, Paul Ruskin, was able to sit down with us to give Penn State students an idea of what to expect on campus in the coming months and when some of their projects will be completed.

HUB-Robeson Center

Hub Renovation

What: The HUB is in the midst of its largest renovation and expansion since the late 1990s. With 54,800 square feet being added to the building with another 52,000 square feet being renovated, the project is the most visible construction on campus. The plan includes a new green roof and atrium, with the existing food court being remodeled and book store moved. The plan also calls for the addition of a THON retail store and the movement of the PNC and ID+ offices and the LION 90.7 FM station. Luckily, the construction will also add  seating to students because we all know how hard it can be to find one during lunch hours.

Where We Stand: Construction has been chugging along for the past year with the project’s steel ready to be topped out. Ruskin cautioned that the HUB Lawn might not be opened at the same time in order to keep it as a staging area for other construction. He did, however, assure us that it will be reopened at some point with a better gradient for students.

Date Started: May 2013

Expected Completion Date: May 2015

South Halls

South Halls Rendering

What: The South Halls renovation project includes the beautification and renovation of the eight residence halls in South, the renovation of Redifer Commons, and the construction of Chace Hall.

Where We Stand: The renovation of Haller, Lyons, Ewing, and Cross Halls have all been completed. The construction of Penn State’s newest dorm, Chace Hall, has also been completed with quite a few amenities. Cooper and Hoyt Halls are expected to be completed before students return for the Fall Semester, with Hibbs and Stephens Halls and Redifer Commons to be completed by the end of the year.

Date Started: May 17, 2012

Expected Completion Date: December 31, 2014

Health and Human Development Building


What: The construction of a new Health and Human Development Building along College Avenue in place of the now-demolished Henderson South. Built with similar architecture to the recently completed Biobehavioral Health Building, this project will help in the beautification of College Avenue, along with the renovation of South Halls. The building will include a methodology center, large auditorium, and the school’s Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development.

Where We Stand: Construction (and deconstruction) has been ongoing for the past year. “We had to use some small explosive charges to put in the foundations of the new building,” Ruskin said of the project. One can only picture Yosemite Sam blasting away on campus.

Date Started: June 2013

Expected Completion Date: May 2015

Natural Gas Pipeline


What: A new natural gas pipeline is being built through campus to switch the university’s heating and power generation from coal to natural gas. A contentious issue in State College, the pipeline will go through campus instead of town, to connect to the power plant which will be converted to natural gas. With over 17 miles of steel pipes, the project will produce heat and power for over 200 buildings on campus.

Where We Stand: Construction has been ongoing on the pipeline along Park Ave. Starting immediately after graduation, construction of the pipeline will move to Curtin Road and Burrowes Road en route to the power plant. With most students away from campus, the project will include the closure of parts of the roads over the course of the summer.

Date Started: August 2013

Expected Completion Date: 2016

Arboretum Children’s Garden

arboretum children's garden

What: The newest addition to the Arboretum, the Arboretum Children’s Garden, will create an educational space for local children to learn about Centre County’s natural landscape. With portions donated by Ed and Helen Hintz, the project intends to not only attract children, but students as well. Complete with telescopes, a glass house, caterpillar, and mushroom seats, the project will be one of the coolest at Penn State.

Where We Stand: Most of the project is completed with some construction yet to be done. Aspects like the mushroom seats and caterpillar are yet to be fully completed, but the project is generally done.

Date Started: 2013

Expected Completion Date: June 2014

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About the Author

Ted Hozza

Ted is a senior majoring in Community, the Environment, and Development, or as his friends here at Onward State like to call it, Architecture. You can probably find him at the Phyrst late at night with other Onward Staters if he's not somewhere else editing articles. You can follow him on Twitter @TedHozza or email him at [email protected].

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