College of IST unveils newly renovated academic services suite

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — College of Information Sciences and Technology students, faculty, staff and guests were greeted with a newly renovated academic services suite for the fall 2018 semester.

The $3 million, 11,000 square foot renovation of Westgate Building’s east side first floor was completed Aug. 6. The new space, which houses the college’s student services and several administrative offices, was expanded to better support the needs of the college’s rapidly increasing enrollment.

“We are fortunate to be at a time of growth for the college,” said Michelle Corby, assistant dean of academic services. “To make that growth comfortable and provide better support for our students, the space needed to be reworked for where we are now and where we want to go in the future.”

The renovation included moving the interior entrance to the suite to a central location, which opens to a lobby with a reception desk, a comfortable waiting area, and multipurpose meeting rooms. The lobby then diverges into two adjacent wings that house more than 50 workspaces and 10 meeting rooms for academic advisers, career counselors and other staff.

“Those areas that have the highest student traffic are connected at the heart,” said Corby. “How we can best serve our students was at the center of every design decision.”

Hoffmann Leakey Architects LLC, an architecture firm located in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, designed the space. Barton Associates developed the mechanical and electrical aspects, and the Penn State Office of Physical Plant (OPP) Renovation Services oversaw construction of the space on an abbreviated schedule so it would be open for the fall semester.

“The design follows the new thinking of space utilization,” said Bob Hoffman, senior principal of Hoffman Leakey Architects. “The private offices are a bit smaller, but there is more open, communicative space.”

In addition to being an open-office environment aimed at increasing staff collaboration, the new space was designed to more efficiently and comfortably serve a greater number of students and guests. It also features a more vibrant color palette designed to create an innovative and engaging environment that better reflects the college’s mission.

“The new space is light, colorful and open,” said Zoe Meyer, director of career solutions and corporate engagement. “We are excited to have a new place to collaborate with our colleagues and our current student population.”

“Because our team is focused on supporting students, we wanted a space that projected our caring attitude, our passion for serving students, and our pride for the College of IST,” added Amy Stever, director of education strategy and planning. “This space allows us to do that.”

The new academic services suite houses the College of IST’s offices of Academic Affairs, Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement, Communications and Marketing, Development and Alumni Relations, Education Strategy and Planning, Events, Inclusion and Diversity Engagement, Learning Design, Undergraduate Advising, and Undergraduate Recruiting.

Throughout the planning of the project, which began in January 2017, staff participated in design sessions where they could provide insight on how the new space could best accommodate their work needs. The renovation began in March.

“This is probably the most rewarding design experience I’ve had in interaction between users and design professionals,” said Hoffman. “Their attitude and willingness to participate, and freedom to express their thoughts openly, was paramount.”

“This was truly a collaborative process,” Corby concluded. “From the formal feedback from our staff to what we have heard from students over the last few years, we now have a space that helps our staff do their best work and our students to get the support they need in a welcoming and comfortable environment.”

Last Updated August 20, 2018