The Health and Human Development Building at Penn State completes the multi-phased master plan for the College of Health and Human Development, unifying all of the College’s research centers and departments while clarifying the architectural fabric of one of the most beloved and historic places on campus. The new and renovated spaces sit harmoniously within the historic campus core, stretching out along a tree lined pedestrian mall and establishing multiple welcoming entries into the College.
A key driver for the building was to provide the College of Health and Human Development with a new home that unites its academic and research centers, thereby creating a more collegial workplace where social and intellectual interaction would enhance research and education. In response to this programmatic requirement the building plan embraces an open central atrium space that serves as the heart of not just the building, but also the entire College. This space features open seating areas on each of its four levels that are designed to encourage impromptu interaction between students, faculty and researchers. A central circulation stair delicately laces through the space as an active design element, encouraging its use as the primary mode of vertical circulation through the building.
Located at a pivotal position on campus, along both an historic pedestrian mall and the campus edge that meets the town, the building is carefully crafted such that its massing respects the character of the historic core while presenting an open, inviting face to the town. The central atrium, which includes a sculptural wall and ceiling expression, is revealed through the glazed building façade facing the community, thereby connecting the life of the building to the life of the town.