Board of Trustees approves new Penn State Behrend residence hall

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State’s Board of Trustees on Friday (Nov. 4) approved the design and funding for construction of a $28.4 million residence hall at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The building, which will be near Ohio Hall, at the southwestern corner of campus, is scheduled to open at the start of the fall 2018 semester. Construction is expected to begin this month.

The four-story, 65,000-square-foot building will add 251 student beds. The added capacity is needed at the college, which has maintained a waitlist for on-campus housing in each of the last 10 years.

The new building will continue a Penn State Behrend tradition of having all on-campus student residence halls named for ships or captains that participated in the Battle of Lake Erie. It will be called Trippe Hall, honoring a one-gun sloop that fought a long-range duel with the British ships Lady Prevost and Little Belt.

The building will house both first-year and upper-level students, with most assigned to double-occupancy rooms. A portion of the building will be reserved for students in the college’s Black School of Business, particularly those with interest in international study. A conference room, reception area and group study spaces will allow the Black School to offer programming to international business students in a residential setting.

“We want to create a living-learning environment where students who have an interest in international business can interact in formal and informal settings,” said Ken Miller, senior director of campus planning and student affairs. “When students of different cultures engage with one another on a day-to-day basis, they are far better prepared to work in integrated global settings.”

Each floor in Trippe Hall will have a large community room, with additional study lounges in each wing of the building. A fully equipped community kitchen will be accessible to all residents.

The building will feature a cluster of individual bathrooms at the center of each floor. That design, modeled on the South Halls complex on the University Park campus, provides additional privacy.

“It’s more private and convenient than what you see in a traditional residence hall,” said Mike Lindner, director of Housing and Food Services at the college. “When you’re in that restroom, it’s your space.”

Residents also will have access to individual lockers, where they can store towels and shower items.

The building design team was led by Turner Construction of Pittsburgh, the same company that managed the renovations and expansion of Erie Insurance Arena. It was developed through a design-build contract, which streamlines the construction process by involving both the architect and the builder from the start of a project.