The steel frame for Penn State Behrend’s new Erie Hall, a $28.2 million fitness and recreation center, will be completed on March 23, when the final beam – a 32-foot, 1,200-pound length of steel – is set into place. The college will celebrate with a “topping off” ceremony, marking the moment the new building reaches its final height.
“It’s a milestone in the construction cycle,” said Ken Miller, senior director of administration and student affairs. “At that point, we’ll really start to have a sense of place for the building and how it fits in the site.”
The original Erie Hall opened in 1952 – before Behrend offered four-year degrees. It served as a gymnasium, a dance hall and a campaign backdrop for former President Bill Clinton, who visited in 2016.
The new building will nearly triple the size of Erie Hall. It will include a three-court gymnasium, training rooms, studio space and support facilities for the college’s NCAA athletics teams. The building also will expand Behrend’s wellness programs: The Personal Counseling office will use the new space to offer workshops related to anxiety reduction, stress management, nutrition and healthy-living strategies, among other health-related topics.
Nearly 40% of the funding for the project came from Behrend students, who committed more than $10 million from the Student Initiated Fee.
Students and other members of the Behrend community are invited to sign the final Erie Hall beam, which will be moved to the Reed Union Building lawn on March 21 and 22. All are welcome at the topping-off ceremony, which will begin with refreshments and remarks in the Reed Wintergarden at 2:30 p.m. on March 23. The beam will be lifted into place at approximately 3 p.m.
“We want students to be part of this,” Miller said. “It’s their building, and it’s taking shape because of their commitment to this project: They saw the need, stepped up and made it happen.”
The new facility is expected to open in December. A camera near the work site is providing real-time images and time-lapse videos of the project, which can be viewed at behrend.psu.edu/eriehall.