Senior class gifts leave permanent legacy on campus

August 01, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State's classes of 2005 and 2007 have graduated and moved on. However, they are still making an imprint on their alma mater -- literally. Construction began this summer on each class' senior gift to the University, both campus improvement projects.

For decades the area in front of Rec Hall has been a vast plain of sterile concrete, but that will soon change. Construction of the Celebration Garden at Rec Hall, the gift of the class of 2007, began on July 7.

According to Tom Flynn, campus landscape architect, the project includes improving the area in front of the building's main entrance by adding gardens and seating.

"We're planning to enclose the area by wrapping it with plants so that it feels more like a garden, and by incorporating brick pavement accents around a central plaza," he said. "We'll also be adding such elements as view portals and understated entryways that will maintain a visual connection between spaces, for example with the nearby Nittany Lion Shrine."

Meanwhile, the Hetzel Union Building, a popular location for senior class gifts, is receiving another one this summer -- the HUB-Robeson Center Sesquicentennial Commemorative Piece. Renowned artist William Culbertson designed this promenade along the HUB lawn that will give a glimpse of campus life in honor of Penn State's sesquicentennial, celebrated in 2005.

The project will include a low seating wall with five pillars of brick and concrete that will detail different periods in the University's history and depict aspects of student life, activities, athletics, and cultural events. The artwork for the wall will be made into bas-relief, a kind of sculpture where the figures project from a shallow background, which will then be mounted on the pillars.

"The artist takes pictures and carves a clay sculpture out of them," said Chad Spackman, project manager at the Office of Physical Plant. "He then uses the sculpture as a mold, pouring concrete into the mold, so that when the concrete hardens the image is formed."

Construction on the wall began July 14 and is expected to be completed by the fall semester. The art for the pillars is being finalized and will be added later this year.

Suggestions for the Penn State 2009 senior class gift are now being accepted. Anyone in the University community is eligible to submit a proposal by visiting and following the instructions. The deadline for submission is Sept. 26, 2008.

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Visit to find out more about senior class gifts to Penn State.

  • Workers prepare to install pavement brick at Rec Hall's new Celebration Garden.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010