Renovation of Behrend’s Federal House wins architectural award

An interior view of the multipurpose room in the new Federal House at Penn State Behrend.

The expanded Federal House at Penn State Behrend features a new multipurpose room that can support programs for as many as 100 people.

Credit: Feinknopf Photography

ERIE, Pa. — The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Institute of Architects has selected the Federal House project at Penn State Behrend for a 2023 Architectural Excellence Design Award. The project, which was led by a design team at GBBN, was one of five in the state selected for an AIA “honor award.”

The $6.6 million renovation and expansion of the Federal House began in 2021. The project preserved the original building, which is believed to be the oldest brick structure in Harborcreek Township, and added a modern, barn-roofed event space. A glass-walled walkway with office suites connects the two sections.

“So many times, when you add to an existing or historic building, the presence of that building gets lost or muddled,” said Allen Washatko, one of the jurors who reviewed the AIA award nominees. “In this case, it was kept as pure and pristine as possible. Then, the building was allowed to change as it turned the corner and went up the hill.”

The new portion of the building includes classrooms, collaborative meeting rooms and a 100-person event space.

The Federal House project created a new home for the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research and Evaluation (CORE), which provides school and community programs to more than 3,000 youth in the Erie region every year. The new facility has allowed CORE to expand both its school-focused programs and its partnerships with community groups, including Erie Insurance, the Erie Community Foundation and United Way of Erie County. It also has created new research and outreach opportunities for Behrend students who work with CORE’s faculty and staff.

To learn more about the Federal House project, visit the GBBN project page.