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Building Shortcuts: Your Guide To Staying Warm & Dry On Walks To Class

It’s no secret that winters in Happy Valley are far from desirable. With bitterly frigid temperatures, harsh winds, and plenty of snow and ice, the coldest days at Penn State make for unbearable walks to class.

I quickly came to that startling realization in my first semester on campus, not much different from when Frank Constanza conceived the idea of Festivus in that fateful Seinfeld episode. It was just too damn cold to walk 15 minutes across campus without a refreshing blast of heat or an escape from the rain and snow. There had to be a better way.

So, in an effort to escape the elements and truly capitalize upon my somewhat-lazy, somewhat-genius instincts, I pledged to always cut through as many buildings as possible on my way to class to stay warm and comfortable throughout harsh winter days.

Without further ado, here are some go-to buildings to take advantage of and advanced tactics to help make the most out of your walks across campus.

Beginner Basics: Buildings To Know

Hammond Building

Ah, Hammond Building. This behemoth of a building is nearly 10 times as long as it is wide and easily stretches farther than any other structure on campus, making it the perfect shortcut for those wishing to stay warm while walking down College Ave. Hammond is so long, in fact, that it’s rumored to have originally been slated as a vertical skyscraper before it was built.

Mary Frances Pillion | Onward State

Hammond is basically one giant hallway and is quite possibly the easiest building to cut through on campus. Be sure to take advantage of it soon, though, as it’s scheduled to be demolished in the near future as the Penn State College of Engineering undergoes a two-phase $849 million upgrade.


Adding the HUB into your building-shortcut rotation is like going from playing checkers to play chess. The beauty of the place is that its four different levels give you a myriad of entrances and exits, allowing you to come in on the basement and leave on Pollock Road without taking one step outdoors or (God forbid) walking upstairs outside.

The only downside to cutting through the HUB is the large crowds seen during peak hours. You’ll stay nice and warm while fending them off, but it’s probably best to only utilize this building when time isn’t of the essence.

Pattee/Paterno Library

While the library isn’t the largest building on campus by any stretch, its bountiful amenities makes it a desirable pitstop whenever you’re on the go. Whether you enter through the front or the back, the library’s many different floors allow traversers to go from the Pattee Mall to Curtain Road, or vice versa, while staying nice and dry.

Plus, with all of the library’s fancy new renovations, there are plenty of lavish couches and cozy nooks to help you rest up and catch your breath before trekking outside into the State College tundra.

Burrowes Building

My personal favorite building to cut through on campus, the Burrowes Building, is basically one giant rectangle stretching from the library all the way down to Pollock Road, covering the northern half of Pattee Mall. Similar to Hammond, it’s basically one giant hallway.

Mary Frances Pillion | Onward State

The catch, though, is that its interior stairwell allows you to make your way up Pattee Mall while remaining inside. You won’t need to worry about that gradual incline building toward the library, for example, if you enter Burrowes from the south. Simply walk through, climb the stairs inside, and exit out by the library’s back entrance. It truly is the epitome of laziness, folks, but it’s fun!

The Osmond/Davey/Whitmore Connection

If you’re a STEM major (godspeed), you probably know these buildings all too well by now. What you might not know, however, is that the bridge connecting Osmond and Davey Lab makes these bad boys perfect for cutting though and staying warm.

Feel free to add Whitmore, which sits north of Osmond, into the mix if you really want to get nuts.

Advanced Tactics

Mix & Match!

The only real tried-and-true method for cutting through buildings on your way to class efficiently is to mix and match between them to find a route to your destination without venturing outside as much as possible.

My example path, which can be found above (and below!), was used nearly every day last semester when I needed to leave class in Chambers and return home to my dorm. Through trial and error, luck, and a combination of both, my friend and I were able to piece together a foolproof route that only forced us to brave the elements for roughly three minutes total.

You might get some weird looks while dashing building-to-building on a 10-minute walk to class. The naysayers might say you’re dumb for going through all of that effort just to stay out of the cold for a few minutes, but who’s going to look smart once they get to class without frostbite and rosy cheeks? That’s right. It’s you, you shortcut-taking fiend. Go get ’em!

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is Onward State's social media manager. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. His favorite shows include Community, Seinfeld, and Arrested Development, and he'll probably talk your ear off about them. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]


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