Progress visible for Biobehavioral Health Building

January 09, 2011

University Park, Pa. -- Students, faculty and staff returning to the University Park campus for the start of spring semester classes today (Jan. 10) will see the first visible signs of progress on the Biobehavioral Health Building construction site since the construction fencing went up back in October. The bridge connecting Henderson Building and Henderson Building South has been demolished -- a step necessary before construction on the new building could begin.

The 12,000-square foot Henderson Bridge Building, which was built in 1958, no longer met the needs of the University. Its demolition allows Penn State to begin construction of the Biobehavioral Health Building foundation, which is expected to be finished later this semester. The building will occupy that space and the former Brown G parking lot. Its internal steel structure is targeted for completion this summer, with utilities, exterior and interior work continuing until the building construction is complete in late fall 2012.

The company overseeing construction of the new facility, Massaro CM Services, is temporarily using a portion of the HUB lawn -- which is fenced off -- for construction staging, material delivery and construction offices.

"People can still use the areas of the HUB lawn that are outside of the construction fence," said Jim Kephart, site manager with Massaro. A sidewalk and signs have been set up to guide the flow of pedestrian traffic through the area. This sidewalk is lighted in order to ensure safe passage at night as well.

The new facility, which is being built with funding from Pennsylvania's Department of General Services, will house several units in the College of Health and Human Development. It also will include a new plaza adjacent to the HUB Lawn that will be used by the college, the University and the community for various events including concerts, speeches and rallies.

"The Biobehavioral Health Building will be an excellent research and learning facility for our students and faculty. It's a welcome addition to our college and to Penn State, and we hope it will encourage significant collaboration among researchers here," said Nan Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz dean of the College of Health and Human Development.

The main lobby of the building facing the HUB lawn will include seating areas and a floor-to-roof glass wall, making it feel like "a big porch" overlooking the HUB Lawn, said Allen Kachel, senior associate with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the architectural firm that designed the building. Known as the "interactive research commons," the lobby was designed as a place where researchers can go to discuss their work and collaborate.

Significant effort was spent to integrate this new building with its surroundings. "We will be able to count this building among the architectural gems on campus," Penn State President Graham B. Spanier noted in his remarks during the building's groundbreaking ceremony this past fall.

Architecturally, the building will segue between the historical Old Main and Henderson buildings and the more modern HUB-Robeson Center, said Kachel. "On the Old Main side of the building, all the materials speak back to those that were used with Henderson Building. On the HUB side, the architecture shifts to a more modern expression to address the grand scale of the HUB Lawn," he said. "The landscape was designed similarly -- the garden on the Henderson side is quiet and contemplative, whereas the side of the building facing the HUB is more open and connected to the HUB Lawn."

For more information on the new Biobehavioral Health Building, see and to see a map of the construction site, go to online.

  • The Henderson Bridge Building has been demolished to make way for construction of the Biobehavioral Health Building on Penn State's University Park campus. To see the full-size photo, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz
Last Updated August 10, 2011