How the high goals for Penn State’s eco-friendly design school were brought down to Earth.
By Gary W. Cramer
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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