Campus Life

East Halls renovation tour and bench dedication takes place Aug. 14

Four individuals -- Gail Hurley, former associate vice president for Auxiliary and Business Services; Ford Stryker, former associate vice president for the Office of Physical Plant; Gordon Turow, former director of campus planning and design in the Office of Physical Plant; and David Zehngut, former University Architect -- who left their mark on Penn State residential life were honored on Aug. 14 at University Park’s newly renovated East Halls, when benches dedicated to them were revealed.

Clayco, DLA Architects, and Mackey Mitchell Architects, which designed the new and renovated East Halls buildings and surrounding landscapes, hosted a tour of the facilities, followed by a lunch and bench reveal.

East Halls, the largest residential complex on the University Park campus, has been undergoing expansion and renovation project since July 2015. More than 4,000 first-year students make their home in East’s 16 coed residence halls.

“The new and renovated halls in East look great, and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from students and families,” said Conal Carr, director of housing operations. “Students appreciate the updated features such as private bathrooms, community lounges and kitchens, and air conditioning.”

Each of the four individuals who were honored with benches in their name made significant contributions to the quality of residential life at Penn State:

Hurley retired from Penn State in 2017. She provided vision, leadership, strategic planning, and oversight for seven administrative units: the Bryce Jordan Center, Hospitality Services, Housing and Food Services, Multimedia and Print Center, Procurement Services, Transportation Services, and the Aviation Center. Hurley led an ambitious initiative to improve residence hall housing at University Park and several commonwealth campuses, making it a priority to ask students for feedback.

“The transformation of East Halls is nothing short of amazing,” Hurley said. “The difference between the drab, box-like structures of the ‘60s and the attractive, welcoming, and functional spaces we see today is dramatic. The look and feel of the area—with the revitalized private and community spaces inside and out—offers an exceptional context for current and future generations of students to live, learn, and socialize. It has been a privilege to be part of this project.”

Stryker, a registered professional engineer, dedicated almost 20 years to Penn State before retiring in 2017. He joined OPP in 1997 as deputy associate vice president responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization at the University Park campus and assumed duties as associate vice president in 2004, overseeing more than 32 million square feet of buildings and 22,000 acres of land across 23 campuses around Pennsylvania.

“The East Halls housing project will have a hugely positive impact on at least 4,000 Penn State students every year, so it’s a special honor to have my name visibly connected with the work,” Stryker said. “The entire project team worked very hard to deliver a successful project. I’d like to think the named benches symbolize this cooperative effort and demonstrate what can be accomplished when everyone gives their best effort in pursuit of a noble goal.”

Turow, who served Penn State for 15 years, was involved in over 400 different building and civic space projects, including hospitals, laboratories, classrooms, residence halls, law schools, hockey rinks, parking lots, student unions, and children’s gardens. Turow ensured the highest standards of quality for campus planning, architecture, and landscape design at Penn State and its 24 campuses.

“I can only imagine the impact this project will have on residential students and their parents, as well as to the entire Penn State community,” Turow said. “I share in the team’s well-earned pride for the quality of East Halls’ architecture and site design. It means more than I can express that my name and those of my colleagues are acknowledged in this way.”

Zehngut, who retired from Penn State in 2017 after serving in that capacity since 1999, represented the University in the design process for all major projects at University Park and all commonwealth campuses, focusing on maintaining the architectural design principles and goals set forth in each campus master plan and preserving their architectural cohesiveness. In addition to East Halls, he most recently participated in the design of the Agricultural Engineering Building, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building, and the Recital Hall.

“This project exemplifies Penn State’s commitment to providing its students with the best living and learning environment to meet their needs,” Zehngut said. “Students and their families will benefit from this project’s overall vision to the smallest detail for generations to come. It was my privilege to be part of the team that conceived, designed, and built this project, and I’m honored by this recognition.”

Last Updated August 29, 2019