Architecture Course Gives Students the Chance to Help with Trippe Hall Construction

Penn State Behrend is expanding its residence hall options and is looking to landscape architecture and architectural engineering students enrolled in ARCH 442/ARCH491 at University Park for assistance. Trippe Hall is the new construction project scheduled to open at the start of the fall 2018.

The construction, managed by Turner Construction of Pittsburgh, will begin in the spring of 2017. The $25 million, 250-bed residence hall project will be complete with individual bathrooms on the center of each floor, a configuration called a "wet core."

"This is a course where landscape architecture and architectural engineer students form teams and collaborate for the design of a building. We're putting them in a simulated atmosphere," Nat Belcher, professor of architecture at University Park says.

In its seventh year, the course has allowed fourth and fifth year students to research design elements and work with professionals to support sustainability. Unique this year, however, the students are seeing the project unfold in live time and see every phase of design.

"The students and professionals have almost worked simultaneously," Ross Weinreb, instructor of architecture, says. "This semester, more than most, is essentially a two-way conversation where students are presenting and professionals are showing their experience. The communication is a big thing [the students] learn. It's a bridge to the profession."

Project goals include creating design elements that are not only setting sustainability standards while minimally impacting budget, but also familiarize students with how to efficiently use the building as a part of the Penn State Sustainable Housing Initiative.

"We're working on net-zero building, or looking at [sustainability standards] as a possibility without impacting the budget," Belcher says. "We're doing this in an effective way that we think can impact research."

The five student teams coordinate with the Office of Physical Plant (OPP), Housing and Food Services (HFS), and architectural directors throughout the course and conclude in weeks 14 and 15 with final design presentations. This year, the final showcase is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 21.

In this showcase, students present a poster and book documenting their research from the semester. The team whose project is found to be the most comprehensive and innovative is awarded with books. Many alumni from the program return for the final showcase to see the students' work, Weinreb says.

"A lot is because [the alumni] are so excited about the course. People want to come back and stay involved," Weinreb says.

"This program has been an excellent example of student engagement with HFS. We hope to have other collaborative opportunities like this in future HFS projects," Chris Hurley, senior director of HFS Commonwealth Campuses and Culinary Support Services, says.

More information on the Trippe Hall construction plans is available here.