A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held June 8, 2018 to mark the official opening of Penn State’s rebuilt and renovated Agricultural Engineering Building, which houses the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
The recently completed $44 million project resulted in a 93,500-square-foot building containing new research and teaching laboratories, classrooms, collaborative teaching/learning spaces, a senior capstone project design lab, offices, a green roof and a state-of the art shared fermentation facility.
“The new building provides a great step forward for creating a sustainable future through our teaching, research and extension work,” said Paul Heinemann, professor and head of agricultural and biological engineering. “It has turned out to be a facility of which our faculty, staff and students can be exceptionally proud. The payoff of all the work we invested in the building project is clearly evident.”
The building was designed by EYP, an architecture and engineering firm with offices throughout the U.S. and Europe. According to Heinemann, the project marked the first at Penn State to employ the “integrated project delivery” approach, which brings together owners, contractors and designers to foster collaboration and capitalize on available expertise.
“Integrated project delivery means you can change course with minimal cost because everyone is at the table when decisions are made,” Heinemann said. “This approach resulted in better details, better communication with users, better communication with builders, minimal change orders, a reduced project schedule and, ultimately, happier customers.”
The original building, constructed in 1938 with a large addition completed in 1968, was designed by Charles Klauder, one of the leading collegiate Gothic architects of his time. The building long has needed significant upgrades to meet energy and safety standards as well as the evolving needs of the department, faculty, students and collaborators across the University. It retains much of the character of the original Klauder design, blending the old with the new.
Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, presided over the 11 a.m. ceremony, which also included remarks by Penn State Trustee and ABE alumnus Keith Masser, Heinemann and Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations O. Richard Bundy III.
The ceremony provided an opportunity to recognize representatives from CSL Behring, which made a $4.92 million gift to help fund the shared fermentation facility. The facility will focus on workforce development and foster interdisciplinary research with the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State, other colleges and institutes, and industry partners.
Penn State officials also acknowledged representatives from Germany-based Sartorius Stedim Biotech, which donated equipment for the shared fermentation facility. Others recognized for philanthropic gifts to name spaces within the building included Wayne and Marian Martenas, Albert and Ellen Jarrett, John and Carol Graham, David and Deborah Ross, and Greg and Janet Jennings, as well as other donors.
These gifts are part of A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence, the University’s focused, $1.6 billion campaign to fulfill its historic mission to serve the public good and create a better future for students, the commonwealth and the world.
“Facilities rarely make or break a faculty member’s career,” said Albert Jarrett, three-time Penn State ag engineering alumnus and professor emeritus of agricultural engineering. “But when your facilities are 80 years old, having been built in 1937 when tillage, baling and combining were important agricultural engineering research topics, it is nice -- and important -- to see the completion of modern teaching, research and extension facilities that will serve this department and its students for the next 80 years.”
The new amenities are expected to help attract top faculty members and students to the ABE department, which has programs in natural resource engineering and management, biological process engineering and biproducts, and agricultural engineering and production. Faculty members already have begun moving into their new spaces; the first classes in the renovated building will take place this fall.