About the new facility
Designed to meet the needs of our students and faculty for decades to come, the new Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Building will be located on the site of the existing Fenske Laboratory, with construction to run from fall 2016 through January 2019. The six-level building will feature state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory spaces designed to foster collaboration, both within and across the two departments as well as with neighboring colleges and institutes.
The building will reflect our deep commitment to excellence in engineering education and research, conveying to prospective students and faculty that Penn State is the best home for their work or study—the right place to bring their thirst for knowledge, their ideas and innovations, and their passion for teaching and learning engineering. That, in turn, will strengthen both departments and enhance their ability to have a positive impact on the world.
Even with the advent of email, Skype, and other forms of virtual communication, face-to-face interaction remains indispensable to collaborative work. Amazing ideas and promising partnerships can result from a water-cooler conversation, a chat over a cup of coffee, or a brief encounter in the hallway. That is why the Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Building has been designed from the ground up to facilitate personal interaction and foster collaboration. Most floors will mix laboratories and offices from both departments with classrooms and other common spaces. A Knowledge Commons, specifically designed to meet the needs of today’s technology-driven instruction, learning, and research, will give students a space to work on group projects and presentation, and lounges on several floors will provide opportunities for more social interactions.
Perhaps the most notable collaborative design element is the laboratory “neighborhood” concept, in which two to four faculty members and their students will share quadrants of laboratory space. While research teams have traditionally been fairly isolated in their lab spaces, even from others in their own department, these neighborhoods will encourage faculty and students to interact informally and see what their colleagues are working on, potentially creating opportunities to take their research into new areas. The neighborhoods will also offer other gift levels for donors who wish to name a space larger than a single lab or classroom. We can only imagine what promising developments will grow out of this supportive and collaborative-by-design environment.
Engineering on Display
One of the most noticeable features of the Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Building will be its transparency. Many teaching and research laboratories will be situated along a main corridor and will have transparent glass walls. This design will create a modern, open feel, but it is more than just an aesthetic choice. By allowing people walking by to actually observe students at work and faculty interacting with them, this transparency will showcase the dynamic, collaborative environment that the building will foster. Prospective students and other visitors will see that interesting things are happening in our chemical and biomedical engineering labs and that students and faculty here are learning and conducting research side by side. We believe that putting the work of Penn State’s engineers on display will build excitement and enthusiasm for these vibrant and widely applicable engineering fields.
Our Generous Donors Make the Difference
Approved by the Penn State project decision review board in October 2014, the Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Building is currently the largest project in Penn State's capital budget. Total building costs are projected at $150MM, and the College of Engineering needs to raise $10MM of these funds.
This building is a revolution in our capacity to support students and engineering education. It is a major financial investment but one that will pay tremendous long-term dividends, and we must turn to our dedicated alumni, friends, and corporate partners to help make it possible. We ask that you consider supporting the Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Building through a gift to name a classroom, laboratory, or collaboration space, or make a gift of any amount through our online giving system. Such a gift offers you the opportunity to invest in the bright future of our chemical engineering and biomedical engineering programs and secure for yourself or your organization an enduring legacy at Penn State.