New Kensington facilities to get better with age

With trees cleared, walls demolished and the access road cut, work is ready to begin on the pergola for the Café 780 courtyard.

A number of campus renovation projects are taking place this summer at Penn State New Kensington. Among these projects are renovations to the Café 780 courtyard, Junction coffee bar, Athletics Center and Biomedical Engineering Technology lab.

Construction is under way and continues through the summer with final completion planned for Aug. 11, according to Jason Bush, Penn State New Kensington director of business and finance.

“All projects are scheduled to be complete prior to the first day of class. Returning students will appreciate the improvements,” Bush said. “The primary intent was to improve the safety and accessibility while using the opportunity to improve the image of the campus exterior. The improvements will be much more appealing to returning and potential students. These are maintenance projects that you get to see.”

Café 780 Courtyard
To give the courtyard a more intimate feel, a pergola will be constructed off the side entrance of the café. Also, known as an arbor, a pergola is a type of gazebo that features a shaded sitting area of vertical posts and cross-beams supporting open lattice. The lattice will be covered with woody vines. In addition, the courtyard will feature a new fire pit, along with new furniture. The prep work included removing two cedar trees and cutting an access road through the back lawn of the Engineering Building for heavy machinery. New trees will be planted and new lighting installed.

Athletics Center
Among upgrades to the Athletics Center are air conditioning for the basketball court, wrestling room, racquetball court and the new pilates/yoga room that in under construction. The pilates room, replete with mirrors and a sound system, is a repurposed racquetball court. The remaing racquetball court remains operable. The center will be closed during construction.

Junction Coffee Bar
Located in the lobby of the main entrance, the coffee bar will be upgraded to look like a mini-Starbucks, according to Bush. The upgrades will allow the Junction to enhance services. Operated by AVI, the campus food service, the Junction complements the campus cafeteria, Cafe 780, as a breakfast and lunch destination for the campus and local business communities. The bar serves coffee, latte and cappucino, hot and iced, as well as flavored smoothies. Featured items include bagels, sandwiches, muffins, cookies, pasties, yogurt, fruit salads and fresh fruit. New lighting and renovations are planned for the main lobby.

ICU and BET Program
The fully-equipped student Intensive Care Unit lab for the Biomedical Engineering Technology program will be completely renovated. The work will improve safety and allow for more hands-on instruction. The BET associate degree program, coordinated by Myron Hartman, senior instructor in engineering, trains students to operate, maintain, troubleshoot and repair medical equipment. The curriculum includes hands-on medical equipment instruction that covers operation, inspection procedures, preventative maintenance and troubleshooting. New Kensington's program is one of only three in the nation to be accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The campus ICU laboratory is one of only two in the United States

Sustainability Projects
Sustainable and environmentally-friendly additions -- development of a composting site and expansion the pollinator garden – also are on the summer schedule. The two projects are funded by an $11,000 grant to the campus Green team by the Sustainability Institute at Penn State

Additional Improvements
Other improvements in the works include roof replacements for the Robert D. Arbuckle Technology building and the Forum Theatre. New exterior doors and renovations of Room 132 are slated for the Engineering Building.

For more information, contact Randy Tressler at 724-334-6122 or

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Last Updated May 28, 2014