Campus' Gateway Building Showcased for Functional Design
The Student and Administrative Services Center, consolidating Pennsylvania College of Technology's student- and public-outreach offerings into one-stop convenience at the institution's front door, has been honored by a national publication. The 78,800-square-foot building was named a "Project of Distinction" by College Planning and Management magazine, which features the SASC as part of the annual Education Design Showcase in its June and July issues.
"The building, designed by Murray Associates Architects of Harrisburg, is open and inviting, and visitors will immediately notice the prevalence of natural light through the corridors and public space," notes the narrative that accompanies several photos of the building's attractive and functional environment. "The lobby and three-story atrium are bathed in natural light, and the extensive use of interior glazing provides a sense of warmth and comfort even to the interior spaces."
The SASC opened in late 2002, a crucial link between the college and the communities it serves.
"There truly is a strategic advantage in the customer convenience of having the offices that service the public, prospective students and employees, and the media all located in an easily accessed area of campus near major transportation arteries," said William J. Martin, Penn College's senior vice president.
His perspective is shared by Benedict H. Dubbs, Murray Associates' chief architect for the SASC, who termed the project a "wonderful opportunity for us to design such an important building" for Penn College.
"As I look back on the design of the building and the goals set by the staff of the college, I feel the building does exactly what was asked," he said. "The building is inviting to visitors, while supporting the ongoing needs of existing students and faculty. The lobby welcomes potential students and their parents. I have witnessed the staff pointing to the various offices as they help first-time visitors navigate through the building; this was one of our goals. It is very upsetting to visitors if they cannot find their destination with ease."
Dubbs, too, noted the way that light fills the three-story volume of the atrium. Acknowledging he could "talk about the building for hours," he pointed with pride to other design features of the SASC:
- The CORE, a glass-enclosed conference area, which provides separation from the lobby while maintaining a visual connection between the two spaces
- Views of the surrounding mountains from offices along the south facade, which allow the staff to enjoy seasonal grandeur
- A second-floor conference room with a "window box" that provides an aerial view of the main entrance
- Second-floor outlooks that provide a waiting area for students or space for staff to exchange information as they move through the building
"From my observations," the architect said, "the building seems to allow a wonderful flow of students, visitors and staff."
That accessibility − and the opportunity for helpfulness that it offers − also was noted by the magazine's editors.
"Visiting parents and prospective students find ample waiting areas and gathering spaces and are directed to the various offices by staff, who can easily point to the office destinations through the open lobbies and atrium," the article continued. "For prospective students and their parents, the centralized 'student services' model provides easy access to offices."
The first floor houses the offices of Admissions, Advisement Center, Registrar, Financial Aid, Residence Life and Athletics. The offices for Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Bursar, College Information and Community Relations, Information Technology Services, Human Resources, and Financial Operations occupy the second floor.
Many of those student-centered offices previously were headquartered in Klump Academic Center − the most historic building at Penn College − which recently underwent an extensive renovation. That painstaking refurbishing of a campus landmark, coupled with construction of the Student and Administrative Services Center, allowed the Academic Center's former office spaces to be returned to their intended instructional use.
Dubbs' firm was the architect for that renovation project, as well as for the Roger and Peggy Madigan Library now under construction south of the SASC. The 104,000-square-foot building, which will increase library capacity nearly fourfold, is scheduled to open next summer.
Murray Associates additionally was the architect for College Avenue Labs (the former HON Industries property); the Village, College West and Rose Street student-housing complexes, renovations to Campus View Apartments, Le Jeune Chef Restaurant and Penn's Loft; expansion of the Schneebeli Earth Science Center, and construction of the college's main entrance off Maynard Street.