Populous’ Scott Radecic Discusses Facilities Master Plan, ’82 Championship Under Paterno
Sandy Barbour and the Penn State athletic department selected architecture and design company Populous in October as the leader of its facilities master plan. Scott Radecic, senior principal at Populous and former Penn State football letter-winner (as well as 1982 National Champion), met with the media on Tuesday to give updates on the plan’s implementation.
He mentioned his time as linebacker under Joe Paterno and reflected on playing in Penn State’s first and only (until January 2) meeting with Georgia.
“When we played [Georgia] in ’82 for [the Sugar Bowl], they had won a National Championship with Herschel (Walker) as a freshman, and that was a great game for us,” he said. “That was a great day for Penn State football, it was Joe’s first National Championship, it was No. 1 in the country versus No. 2. Back then there was only two or three games on New Year’s Day, and that was the focal point of the day. It’s great memories. Every time you come back and get together with other players, you get a chance to remember what it was like to be on a great team with a lot of great players, and give coach something that we were really proud of being able to do.”
The rest of the press conference focused on the athletic department’s master plan. Its first iterations were slowly revealed in a series of town halls led by Barbour, and this was the first public opportunity since early November to be provided updates on the process.
Populous is the largest sport architecture firm in the world and has been in existence for 33 years, having served more than 130 different colleges and universities. The overall plan will encompass all of Penn State’s 31 varsity sports programs and 24 venues, and will address what works well and what’s not working well within said venues. Radecic explained that Populous is here to help the university prioritize. Populous has bountiful experience designing similar master plans at similar universities, and Radecic spoke confidently of the work his team was doing.
Radecic’s connection to the university and its athletic department makes this job personal, and he had nothing but praise for his time in Happy Valley.
“Having been a student-athlete here, I know what it’s live to live here, walk to class, go to the dining hall, go take a test after practice. I’m familiar with Penn State,” he said.
Radecic also stated that he is the principal in charge of the Penn State project and is “accountable for any success or failure” it experiences.
Populous brings a diverse team of highly specialized professionals to the table. Parts of the team specialize in programming, conducting the user group interviews, and assessing what works well and what does not. Along with this group are “folks who will provide conceptual designs” that will take all information and create square footage assessments. Landscape architects and urban planners will also be brought in for the project. Radecic says that Populous plans to follow the campus design principles that extend across all of the university, stating that, “Penn State has an absolutely beautiful campus, they’ve done an amazing job.” He also believes that it is a matter of trying to understand the dynamic that occurs on this campus, and that, “We’re just stewards of the resources that they have here.” While the master plan has been carefully developed, it will be no easy task to carry out.
“[This plan is the] largest athletic master plan that I’m aware of,” Radecic said. “[Populous] got hired at the end of September, for the last two months we’ve been conducting our goal-setting meetings.”
While the task is ambitious, Radecic has no concerns about whether Penn State will approve of it, saying that Populous’ master plans are always accepted by universities. “It’s a matter of us listening to them… It will be a successful plan.”
Radecic speaks from experience, seeing as Populous has previously worked with schools like Arkansas, Northwestern, Arizona State, and Rutgers, and stadiums like Yankee Stadium, Wembley Stadium, and EverBank Field (home of the TaxSlayer Bowl). When asked about the budget the company will work with, Radecic said that most of these projects are funded through donations, and that they are “normally not given a budget,” but that it “does vary by the scope of work.”
He was then asked about one of the hottest topics regarding the master plan: what will happen with Beaver Stadium? Arguably the most popular building on campus brings in the most revenue, but is only used six or seven times a year.
“It’s a very important piece of the puzzle,” Radecic said. “[It’s] just one of all of [the venues] that needs to be looked at.” While Radecic made it clear that the stadium would not be prioritized over other venues he did admit that, “The stadium needs a little love right now. There’s a lot of opportunity in it.”
Some of the concerns about Beaver Stadium were brought to light in Barbour’s community town hall, where the public was able to come and voice its concerns about railings, elevators, bathrooms, and more. Barbour hinted that she’d be interested in using the enormous stadium more than seven times a year, but provided no insight as to how.
If Populous opts to build new facilities, Radecic acknowledged that Penn State allows more options than some urban campuses he’s worked on.
“There are areas of campus that are quite dense,” he said, but added there is space to work with on East campus. The difficulty there is that much of it is used for football parking, but Radecic is confident that there is still land that can be used.
Radecic believes it is important that Populous keeps up with the university’s own plans for personal growth, and that the company makes sure that “anything we do is consistent with those plans as well.”
The goal is to have a finalized plan by next summer. If Populous and the athletic department stay on track, big changes to campus should be here very soon.
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The university has pledged at least $2 million toward the multidisciplinary center’s establishment, and a fundraising campaign aims to raise $3 million in private support with $3 million in matching funds from Penn State.
Homecoming 2019 is locked in for the first week of October.
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