UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Final plan approval and funds for completion of the James Building replacement on University-owned property in downtown State College was granted by Penn State's Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning (Nov. 14). The project will be presented to the full board for a vote on Friday, Nov. 15.
At a cost of $56.8 million, the plan is to construct a six-story building of approximately 85,000 square feet on Burrowes Road. The project will support the Invent Penn State initiative by developing a multi-use innovation and maker-space facility, including space for a 2.0 version of Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, which is currently located at 224 S. Allen St. This state-of-the-art makerspace and entrepreneurial hub in the new facility will include workshops, a virtual reality/immersive technology lab, classrooms, collaboration and lecture areas, co-working spaces, offices and an event/multipurpose space.
The aesthetic and character of this urban site will be enlivened by a modern exterior of glass and metal, according to plans. Pedestrians on South Burrowes Street and New Alley will be able to see the makerspace work on display.
“This building will allow us to expand on the success of Invent Penn State and will become a center for innovation, making, and knowledge sharing for Penn State and the local community,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State. “It will serve as a cornerstone of our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
In addition to the innovation spaces, the deans’ suites for the colleges of Information Sciences and Technology and Earth and Mineral Sciences will move to the fourth and fifth levels, respectively. The building will include an underground parking structure that will accommodate 31 parking spaces.
The existing 30,000-square-foot James Building built in 1920, formerly housed operations for the independent student media, The Daily Collegian, along with administrative offices of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and the Bellisario College’s Media Effects Research Laboratories. The outdated facility was recently vacated so demolition could proceed.
The Board of Trustees in September 2018 approved Kieran Timberlake of Philadelphia as the architect for the project.