Classroom, lab renovations at Breazeale Reactor Building approved

Center Valley -- At its meeting July 15, Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved plans to renovate 8,000 square feet of classroom and laboratory space on two stories of the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor Building on Penn State’s University Park campus, at a cost of $3.6 million. Improvements will include a new elevator and renovated bathrooms to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act mandates, and also will update all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems on the ground level and first floor of the facility’s west wing. Renovations will be complete by fall 2012.

Part of the Radiation Science and Engineering Center, the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor is the United States’ longest operating university reactor. Since 1955, the reactor, its controls and safety system have provided the opportunity for hands-on learning and research to generations of reactor operators, undergraduate and graduate students in nuclear engineering. The reactor is inherently safe and does not produce electricity.

Mark Trump, associate director for operations at the Radiation Science and Engineering Center, said the renovation project will improve the building’s energy efficiency. A new HVAC unit will be placed atop the building, and double-paned window glass and insulation will be installed along the facility’s outside walls. Occupancy sensors and upgraded ventilation for experiment hoods, laboratories and classrooms also will play a role in reducing the building's energy footprint. This work represents the first of two planned phases of renovations to the facility.

During the project, Trump said, affected classroom and lab operations will be moved to other areas within the building, and also to the nearby Academic Projects Building. He said planners are focused on ensuring a minimal impact on day-to-day operations as the work is completed.

“We have three primary missions: education, research and service to the country, and all three will continue through the renovations,” he said.

The Breazeale Reactor provides nuclear analytical and testing facilities in support of the research and education activities of faculty, staff and students at Penn State. The facility's resources also are available to users from other universities and educational institutions, governmental agencies and corporations as part Penn State’s public service mission, symbolized by its status as Pennsylvania’s sole Land-Grant institution.

Last Updated July 18, 2011