Engineering on display becomes the anchor of PSU’s West Campus
College of Engineering Research & Teaching Space 2: Translating vision into reality as the project’s Executive Architect. Partnered with Payette, LJC is responsible for detailing and executing the building envelope, leading the interior design, and defining the landscape architecture.
Penn State University’s (PSU) College of Engineering (COE) Research & Teaching Space 2 facility, an anchor for a re-imagined West Quadrangle on the University Park campus, will bring together multiple COE programs, including SEDTAPP, the Learning Factory, the Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) Lab, and High Bay research. The goal is to create a single programmatic magnet for research, making, testing, and prototyping from a wide range of disciplines to become the innovation and making hub of the COE. Emphasis is on integrating active learning by putting it on display and creating an iconic building that will become the visitor’s and prospective student’s introduction to the COE. Collaborating with PSU’s COE leadership and Payette, the team delivers a space with flexible classrooms, multi-use design studios, maker spaces, high-bay research labs, faculty offices, and research cores to benefit multiple engineering disciplines.
The building form is simple in shape, a simple box. This form transforms into a series of high-performance exterior wall systems, clad on three sides with brick, stone, triple-glazed glass, and copper anodized metal panels. The fourth side, the east façade that faces the quad, reflects the client’s desire to bring learning to the forefront. Clad with a triple-glazed timber curtain wall, the fully transparent east façade enables the engineering students and faculty to interact with the quad’s activities. It lets those on the exterior discover the research within. This primary design feature enables the engineering students and faculty a view of the quad activities and lets other students and faculty discover research within. On the roof are a series of triangulated light monitors, each orienting north, to draw daylight deep within the open floor plan. This three-story high bay civil and structural research lab will be a modern engineering building with an honest expression of the program and timeless use of materials. It will provide faculty and students new opportunities to elevate their thinking to transform the world.
In pursuit of LEED Gold Certification, efforts were made by the design team early to focus on the energy performance of the exterior façade. The exterior skin is designed to meet the 2020 goal within the AIA 2030 Commitment, targeting an 83% reduction over the national energy average use intensity (EUI). Additionally, the triple-glazed timber curtain wall serves as a design feature, increases the users’ thermal comfort, and reduces the need for radiant heat.
The link between the COE Research & Teaching Space 2 building and the quad is the landscape. LJC’s landscape architecture team is reimagining the 15-acre quad to reflect PSU’s incredible legacy landscapes. The strategy begins with enhancing pedestrian circulation throughout the West Campus. It aims to create a safe and secure campus with useful, meaningful, and branded exterior spaces that encourage students to utilize the outdoors through a variety of plant materials, colors, textures, and seasonal interests. Creating opportunities for students and faculty to collide, mix, and share ideas and enrich the COE culture. All improvements intend to create great and memorable user experiences.
LJC has had the pleasure of working with Penn State University since 2014. PSU’s COE Research & Teaching Space 2 will be LJC’s 8th project on its campuses. This new COE Research & Teaching Space 2 building has a familiar backdrop to the LJC-designed West Deck Parking garage behind.