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Penn State to Add New General Instruction Building

The most popular buildings on campus are those such as Forum, Willard, and Thomas, capable of housing any class or lecture. Finished in 1992, the Joab L. Thomas was the last general instruction building to be added to campus. Twenty-six years later, Penn State is planning to construct a new and more modern one.

This past April, a subcommittee responsible for the design of a non-disciplined, general campus building met for the first time and has been diligently programming the layout and various building features ever since.

The building will be centrally located on campus across from the Borland Building at the corner of Curtin and Shortlidge. At 117,000 square feet, the new instruction building will take place of what is now a parking lot. Of that gross square footage, 76,000 square feet will go to classroom, office, and lab space, whereas the leftover space will be utilized for hallways, lounges, and study areas.

The university has set aside $51.3 million for the new building, but as time progresses, the cost is expect to increase.

In reference to buildings such as Forum and Thomas, Deborah Howard, who is the Director of Facilities Resources and Planning, noted, “The committee’s view is to have this building push us forward; we don’t want to reproduce what we already have.” Essentially, the subcommittee will integrate the standard lecture hall with modern classroom technology in hopes to encourage faculty to teach and students to learn in more efficient and innovative methods.

“You can’t force the human race to change culture, methods, or programs, but you can provide an environment that’s conducive to it,” Howard said.

The expectation is that the building will utilize technology similar to what can be found in the Krause Innovation Studio, since it has served as a successful mini-project that utilizes modern classroom technology and learning tools.

The subcommittee is still in the programming stages, which includes the planning of the physical space — the floor plan, as well as classroom sizes. They are contemplating design options from food venues to classroom technology to atrium designs.

“In addition to its functionality, we want it to be a signature building that will be viewed as a beautiful addition to campus that the students will love to go to,” said Scott McDonald, the Director of the Krause Innovation Studion and a member of the subcommittee.

The new campus building does not even have a name yet, but the subcommittee hopes to be done with the programming stages by late spring of next year. In the near future, the committee is considering holding open forums in the HUB in order to gather more ideas for classroom designs from teachers and students alike.

There is no timetable for when the groundbreaking of the building will be, but the subcommittee is hoping for construction to be underway within four to five years.

About the Author

Jon Deasy

is a senior majoring in criminology from the Steel City. You can find him at the Rathskeller on a Saturday or in the library at four in the morning. He plans to attend law school in the future and enjoys writing about college kids committing the most comical crimes in State College. When he’s not busy, he’s aimlessly staring at his Twitter, @jon_deasy. You can reach him via email at [email protected]


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