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Board of Trustees Approve Major Renovation Projects

by on November 16, 2012 6:46 PM

The Board of Trustees approved renovations and construction projects for Rec Hall, at $5.5 million, at Old Main for $11 million and a new Health and Human Development Building for $58.5 million. 

Rec Hall will finally have air conditioning installed and should be ready by the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester. The board was told that without the air conditioning, the old wooden floors in the building buckle. The problem is exacerbated when the weather is humid. 

Old Main was designed in 1929 and has essentially remained the same aside from necessary upgrades as it ages. Now, after 82 years, "normal wear and deterioration, as well as necessary renovations to accommodate changes in building use, have compromised the preservation of some of the building’s original features," Penn State officials said.

Utility infrastructure replacements and upgrades are necessary now to avoid critical failures in the building’s heating and plumbing systems. Also, poor temperature and humidity control in the lobby was identified as the source of long-term deterioration of the historic frescoes, which were painted by Henry Varnum Poor in the 1940s.

Restrooms will be renovated and made ADA-compliant. Upgraded heating, ventilation, cooling and humidity control systems will be installed in the lobby area only to stabilize the frescoes and maintain a comfortable environment. Work on the frescoes is well under way, and one wall has already been completed by experts from Albert Michaels Conservation.

Discreet, indirect lighting will showcase the detailing on the columns while museum-type lighting will enhance the frescoes and replicas of lost fixtures will be recreated with modern wiring. The end result of the renewal will maximize the value of today’s technologies while preserving the architectural integrity of the lobby, Penn State said. 

Construction on the $11 million project should be completed by the fall of 2013.

In another location on campus, included in the $58.5-million plan for the Health and Human Development Building is a new 77,800-square-foot building to be constructed in much of the same area as the existing Henderson Building South.

Approximately 35,000 square feet of Henderson Building South, which contains classrooms and laboratory space, will be retained and renovated, then joined to the new Health and Human Development Building. According to Penn State, The facility is set to open in January 2015.

The Health and Human Development Building is the second and final phase of a plan to improve, expand and consolidate certain offices and facilities in the College of Health and Human Development along College Avenue between the Old Main and HUB-Robeson Center lawns. The building will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

Construction is projected to begin in January 2013. The first phase of the project began in 2010, when work started on the Biobehavioral Health Building. Faculty and staff members are moving into that building this month.

"The new facility will advance our mission of improving lives through research, teaching and outreach," said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. "Its prominent location on campus, along with the innovative, environmentally responsible design, will be a welcoming presence on College Avenue and will help connect the college and the University to the State College community."

The ground level will have 31 research offices and four labs and observation rooms for HDFS, along with a 90-seat general classroom. HDFS will occupy 19 administrative and research offices on the first floor, which also will include two conference rooms, two graduate student office areas, an internship resource room and office support space.

On the second floor, the department will have 32 faculty, research and graduate student offices along with a conference room, common area and various support spaces. The dean’s suite and administrative offices will occupy the third floor. The fourth floor will house the offices of the Methodology Center.

Improvements to the remaining wing of Henderson South will include new sprinklers and lights along with selective upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The first phase, the $48.1-million Biobehavioral Health Building, created a new 93,500-sqaure-foot home to the Department of Biobehavioral Health, along with several research centers within the college.

The board also approved making the switch from burning coal at the university's steam plant to using natural gas, as it is less expensive and more efficient. 


Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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