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January 2006 Issue

Naturally Secluded
How the high goals for Penn State’s eco-friendly design school were brought down to Earth.

By Gary W. Cramer

How the high goals for Penn State.s eco-friendly design school were brought down to Earth.
LAQUATRA BONCI ASSOCIATES

Wrestling with the task of making a new School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) headquarters a campus showcase for sustainability occupied Pennsylvania State University officials and their chosen designers for years, but in the end, addressing the accessibility limitations of what one faculty member termed an “armpit” site pinned down some of the project’s loftiest aspirations. The results included an eco-friendly parking lot unlike any the campus has seen before, an easy pedestrian flow around and through a major new building, and a palette of native plantings that raises the bar for landscape maintenance professionals. But nature itself defeated several ambitious concepts, and a tight budget delayed the implementation of others.

Funded through private donations and opened last fall, the Stuckeman Family Building for SALA is the university’s first structure designed to meet leed Green Building Rating System criteria and the first specifically designed for the architecture and landscape architecture departments. The new, four-story structure replaces obsolete SALA facilities and relocates the school from within the shadow of the College of Engineering to the “neighborhood” dominated by the rest of the College of Arts and Architecture’s buildings on this campus in central Pennsylvania. The building has a capacity of nearly 560 students (about a 60/40 percent split of architecture/landscape architecture) and 50 full-time faculty and staff members.

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