UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Faculty, staff and students joined University leaders, HOK architectural firm and Turner Construction Co. executives, donors, and guests Dec. 1 for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Animal, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Building on Penn State’s University Park campus.
The 105,000-square-foot, $98.5 million building, located on the site of the former Henning Building on Shortlidge Road between Curtin Road and Park Avenue, took approximately two years to complete. The structure houses research laboratories, instructional spaces and offices for the Department of Animal Science and the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“Our institution was founded to use education and research to advance the agricultural industry,” Penn State President Eric Barron told the audience. “Today, Penn State is one of the most respected integrated academic and outreach units of its kind in American higher education, and the College of Ag Sciences is at the forefront of research and educational programs that are vital to our economy, health and national security.”
Barron said that the college’s importance has grown as the world has increased demand for agricultural and food systems, renewable energy, and a sustainable environment. But he noted that it takes state-of-the-art facilities to do state-of-the-art research and to attract the most ambitious faculty, staff and students.
“The Henning Building had served its purpose well, but it had outlived its lifespan,” he said. “Plus, the research and teaching being conducted are critical to our food supply chain and animal and human health. A new building was essential, and thanks to the efforts of many people, we can celebrate the investments in Penn State’s Animal Science and Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences programs and people.”
Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, pointed out that the college educates nearly 3,000 undergraduate students and 450 graduate students, more than a third of whom study animal, veterinary or biomedical sciences.
“Animal production is the largest sector of Pennsylvania agriculture,” Roush said. “More than 80,000 jobs — 29% of agricultural employment — are directly involved in animal production and the crop production that supports it, providing more than $9 billion to the Pennsylvania economy, and growing. The departments of Animal Science and Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences are major contributors to this success.”
Roush said the obsolete design and failing infrastructure of the former Henning Building seriously hampered the college’s research and its ability to recruit and retain faculty.
“I am pleased to officially report that the building has already helped attract new faculty,” he said.
The Animal Science and the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences departments complement each other, and both departments are well known for their outstanding undergraduate instruction, including placements into veterinary schools, Roush said. He said their co-location will provide further opportunities for synergy in their research and academic programs.
The new building contains a state-of-the-art vivarium, a general purpose classroom that seats at least 100, a 48-seat departmental seminar room and collaboration zones designed to promote cross‐departmental collaboration and provide the departments greater flexibility in assigning laboratory space.
Bill Sitzabee, vice president for facilities management and planning in Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant, touted the new building’s operational efficiencies, design innovations and facilities that will enhance research and academic programs.
“There are many components of this new building to be excited about, including the increased capacity of the vivarium, which will enable future growth opportunities for animal research activities,” Sitzabee said. “From a teaching space perspective, the new general purpose classroom is an important component of the building that provides a much-needed large classroom on this side of campus and will benefit the University for years and years to come.”
–Chuck Gill, Penn State University