Board hears construction updates, approves new projects

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HERSHEY, Pa. -- A variety of construction projects across Penn State campuses are in various stages and are expected to upgrade aging facilities, but more than that, the projects will improve student living.

"We're talking about more than bricks and mortar here. By addressing these facilities needs, what we are doing is investing in the future of our students," explained Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost, last fall in talking about construction and renovation that he believes is absolutely necessary to keep Penn State at the forefront of education.

The board today (March 7) voted to approve the following projects, which were recommended by the Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning in its meeting yesterday (March 6):

-- Final plans and the awarding of contracts for Tyson Building upgrades. This 1949 building houses the College of Agriculture Sciences’ classrooms, labs and offices at University Park. The project includes a new roof, separate ventilation for labs and offices, energy-saving heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) improvements, new ceilings and efficient lighting and electrical system modifications. The cost of the project is estimated to be $5.2 million.

-- Construction of Building 7 at Knowledge Park, Penn State Erie. The School of Engineering at Penn State Erie has grown to serve 1,442 students and needs expanded classrooms, labs and office space. Construction of the proposed new building, a collaboration with the Greater Erie Industrial Development Corp. (GEIDC), would provide more academic space as well as house partner companies collaborating with the school. Penn State’s portion of Building 7 will contain eight classrooms and 25 faculty offices. The total cost of the Building is $15.27 million with Penn State’s portion amounting to $9.46 million. The industrial tenant portion is $5.81 million. 

In addition, the board received printed information on several projects, including Café Laura in Mateer Building; Atherton Hall, home to the Schreyer Honors College; and the Bryce Jordan Center; at University Park.

-- Café Laura in Mateer Building. The University intends to upgrade the dining, servery and coffee shop areas of Café Laura located in Mateer Building on the University Park campus. Café Laura provides students with the opportunity to practice real-life skills where students plan, market, prepare and serve a memorable dining experience for the University community. The student-run element of Café Laura makes it a unique on-campus restaurant that prepares students for future careers in hospitality and dining services. The project includes new lighting, floor tile and movable dividers. Additional new technology will allow students to experience modern-day restaurant management. The cost estimate for the project is $1.1 million.

-- Atherton Hall. The University intends to renovate one quarter of the 1939-era bathrooms in Atherton Hall, part of the South Halls complex on the University Park campus. Four existing common bathrooms in the northwest wing of the building will be replaced by 23 shared private bathrooms. The northeast wing was completed in 2013. The cost estimate for this project is $1.5 million.

-- The Bryce Jordan Center at University Park. The Bryce Jordan Center will be closed for the summer for roof replacement and restoration of the arena floor. The arena floor is not level, which affects the installation of the removable basketball court. Previous repairs using leveling agents have deteriorated over time, resulting in trip hazards.

The Jordan Center event calendar has been cleared from May 12 to Aug. 15, so that the center's 11,000-square-foot concrete slab can be removed and re-poured. The surface leveling process will use laser technology that was not available when the facility was built in 1995.

Since the Jordan Center will be closed for the summer, a planned roof replacement project will be completed at the same time. The thermoplastic polyolefin membrane of the high roof will be removed, but the existing insulation will be maintained. Additional insulation will be added for code compliance and increased energy efficiency and then covered with a new polyvinyl chloride (PVC) membrane.

Additional support work includes masonry restoration and repairs needed to ensure a watertight seal. The lightning protection system will be re-certified, and scoreboard connections will be upgraded for future power and telecom needs. The project is estimated to cost $4.85 million.

Even though the Jordan Center will be closed for the summer, access to Intercollegiate Athletics offices and the south annex/gymnasium will be maintained. Previously scheduled summer users have been provided with alternative venues. The concourse level restrooms will not be available for 4th Fest. However, other accommodations have been arranged. After Aug. 15, the Bryce Jordan Center will re-open to provide a full schedule of student and community events.

News Source : Board hears construction updates, approves new projects

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