Arboretum's Overlook Pavilion construction set to begin

March 21, 2008

Washington, DC -- Penn State's Board of Trustees approved the start of construction of the Overlook Pavilion in The Arboretum at Penn State at its meeting today (March 21) in Washington, D.C.

The one-story masonry structure is the architectural anchor in phase one of the Arboretum, the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. The 800-square-foot structure will include public restrooms, office space and a tool-storage area. Between April and November, the pavilion's event terrace will accommodate approximately 190 guests under a tent structure integrated with the pavilion design.

Penn State officially broke ground in November for the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, made possible by a $10 million gift from Penn State class of 1948 alumnus and State College resident Charles "Skip" Smith.

The gardens will be located on the University Park campus on the Mitchell tract, a 56-acre parcel of land along Park Avenue, and will serve as the front door to the larger Arboretum. Construction is officially under way, with completion of the first phase scheduled for spring 2009.

The Arboretum is expected to be a major cultural and tourist destination in central Pennsylvania, attracting nearly 200,000 visitors annually.

Last July the University selected the architectural firm MTR Landscape Architects of Pittsburgh to begin designing the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. The design team also includes Overland Partners, which is the firm designing the Overlook Pavilion. Previously, Overland Partners designed the Stuckeman Family Building, the home of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, on the University Park campus.

Occupying nearly 400 acres between Park Avenue and the Mount Nittany Expressway on the University Park campus, the Arboretum will be open to the public. The master plan for the botanic gardens includes plantings of species from around the world and state-of-the-art educational and research facilities. Future plans include a visitors' center, conservatory, and children's education center.

The Arboretum will be funded almost entirely by philanthropic support.

Watch a video about the Arboretum at Penn State at

Visit to learn more about the Arboretum at Penn State.

  • IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010