Share

Taking Agriculture into the Future

The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering moves ahead on a new research facility.
View from the North Halls side of the new building.

View from the North Halls side of the new building.

Faculty and staff members in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering are taking agriculture into the future, and a newly renovated building to be completed in December 2017 will help get them there.

“Our department designs technologies to improve agricultural production, solves problems related to natural resources protection, and creates new biologically based products and processes,” said professor and head Paul Heinemann. “We do all of our research, teaching, and extension in these areas, but we are in a building that does not adequately support these activities.”

The new building, which will cost about $44 million, will maintain its historical front façade, but the rest will be completely demolished and rebuilt. “Currently, the building’s first floor is dominated by shops and labs,” said Heinemann. “To get from one side to the other you have to walk through all of these areas. From a safety perspective, that’s unacceptable.”

The new building will allow all spaces to be accessed by public walkways. In addition, the spaces will be bathed in natural light. “There’s going to be what we call a light slot, which will put natural light all the way through the middle of the building,” Heinemann said.

According to Heinemann, the building project is Penn State’s first use of integrated project delivery (IPD). “IPD is a newer approach to construction in which all the parties—the user, which is Penn State; the architects; and the engineers—come together from the very beginning as a team to design and build the building, so you don’t get these handoffs with all the miscommunications and redos that come with those,” he said. “It’s a much more efficient process in the long run.”

Groundbreaking for the new building will begin next summer.

—Sara LaJeunesse

For more information

Agricultural Engineering Building Project