Pattee Library renovation to expand student study, collaboration spaces

September 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning approved a plan Thursday (Sept. 13) that will help to expand space at Pattee Library for student studying and collaboration on the University Park campus.

The $17.3 million renovation and infill expansion of Pattee Library will increase student group-study and collaboration spaces, and improve overall accessibility across west and central Pattee Library floors and between Pattee Library and Paterno Library. 

“Many years of planning, benchmarking and thoughtful discussions have gone into this effort, which we consider the signature project of our Libraries 2020 Vision for Innovation because we believe it exemplifies the forward-looking vision we have for supporting students’ academic success in all our spaces across the University,” Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, said. “We are excited by the prospect of completing a greatly needed phase of Pattee Library’s expansion and innovation, to not only improve movement through our largest library facility but also to give University Park students more spaces to pursue academic studies, develop entrepreneurial concepts and provide equity of access for hands-on experience with emerging technologies.” 

Plans call for an infill of Pattee Library’s small, rectangular courtyard, the only undeveloped space remaining within the perimeter of the original Pattee Library structure and its 1966 west-side addition. A two-story enclosed atrium — including a stairwell connecting the ground floor to the first floor, expanded elevator access and additional square footage — will improve pedestrian flow across the building. 

Collaboration Commons rendering

Pattee Library’s entire ground floor west will be renovated and renamed the Collaboration Commons. Ample electrical outlets will encourage students to “bring your own device,” while group study rooms, bar-height table seating facing campus views, open seating areas, and a flex-use multipurpose room with mobile furniture will provide a variety of configurations for groups of all sizes.

IMAGE: WTW Architects

A ground-level corridor will connect a new Collaboration Commons encompassing the full ground floor west footprint of Pattee Library with its central ground floor, which is the location of the Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information. Upper levels of the infill better connect areas of the George and Sherry Middlemas Arts and Humanities Library on Pattee Library’s second and third floors.

The Collaboration Commons will effectively increase the library’s space available for group-work areas and group-study rooms, similar to the existing Knowledge Commons one floor above it. The Collaboration Commons’ design includes abundant charging outlets and wireless infrastructure, more than a dozen group-study rooms, flex-use tables, mobile furniture and a section with collapsible glass walls, to give the entire floor the possibility of multiple configurations for group-study, as well as classroom and presentation options. 

The second floor of the infill will bring together for the first time all Library Learning Services employees, who oversee academic instruction and student engagement programs, and expand options for library instruction. 

The third floor’s infill space will centralize three Digital Scholarship and Data Services units, which include Digital Humanities Services, Research Data Services and Scholarly Publishing Services. Research Data Services oversees the University’s repository, ScholarSphere, and provides expert guidance for advanced research services such as data management planning, statistical consultations, geospatial mapping and analysis, data archiving and preservation, and funding agencies’ public access policies.

Newspapers and news periodicals have been relocated to the new MacKinnon’s Lounge on the first floor of Paterno Library. It is adjacent to a new, 2,800-square-foot, University-licensed Starbucks café opened on Aug. 20 and operated by Penn State Food Services’ Retail Dining. The expanded café has more adequately accommodated high demand for food and beverage service and seating.

Renovation and expansion plans were developed iteratively, incorporating input from student surveys and focus groups, in partnership with a team of University, design and construction partners and consultants.

“WTW Architects was selected and approved by Penn State’s Board of Trustees in July 2017 to be a partner in this project from its conception, helping us to pre-determine cost-saving steps to maximize the use of available spaces and minimize impacts on students and our employees,” Kimlyn Patishnock, the Libraries’ senior director of administrative services, said. “This approach to the construction project has brought together the architect, construction firm Alexander Building Construction Co., Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant, Housing and Food Services and the University Libraries as equal partners in this project, each responsible for helping to ensure the project’s overall success, efficiency and financial stewardship.”

Completed in 1940, Pattee Library opened its doors holding 150,000 volumes, “three times as many volumes as the number for which the building was designed,” according to University Libraries history documentation. Since that time, it has seen three expansions — the addition of the stacks in 1953, West Pattee Library in 1966, and East Pattee in 1973, which itself was expanded from 1997 to 2000 and renamed Paterno Library for its two campaign chairpersons who spearheaded its fundraising. 

Information and ongoing updates regarding the proposed Libraries 2020 construction project will be posted on the University Libraries website after receiving final approval by the Board of Trustees.

  • West Pattee Library rendering

    A renovated terrace and entrance to the ground floor of West Pattee Library, which will be completed in summer 2019 as the final portion of the project, will open views from a new Collaboration Commons and also add outdoor seating and gathering space. A gentle slope will improve accessibility to the building entrance. 

    IMAGE: WTW Architects
Last Updated September 13, 2018