Trustees approve plans, funds for new West 1 engineering building

May 07, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Board of Trustees today (May 7) approved the final plans and construction of a new engineering research and teaching space at the University Park campus. 

Currently called West 1, the proposed $228 million building is the latest project in the College of Engineering’s proposed, decade-long plan to modernize engineering facilities and creatively use space to foster collaborative innovation. 

West 1 will provide approximately 290,000 gross square feet to be used as flexible classrooms, multi-use design studios, extensive research labs and offices for faculty in architectural engineering, civil and environmental engineering, aerospace engineering and acoustics. It will also house an indoor flight facility for students working with unmanned aerial vehicles and various student support services for the college, such as the College of Engineering Advising Center and the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion. 

West 1’s proposed location sits at the west end of the Westgate ramp, positioned diagonally from the newly constructed West Campus Parking Deck and West 2, the engineering research and teaching building currently under construction. Construction on West 1 is expected to begin in June. 

“These buildings will help to transform the College of Engineering’s footprint at University Park and West Campus into an active and vibrant hub of activity,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering. “With West 1 and West 2 positioned near other college buildings such as Leonhard and Earth and Engineering Sciences, all of which will be situated around a central quad, we envision a welcoming space in which conversations continue from the classroom or lab to the common spaces and back again. Not limited to our faculty, staff and students, West Campus will also offer opportunities for alumni, corporate partners, and community members to engage with engineering at Penn State.”

Over the last decade, the college’s population has expanded to more than 10,000 students and 400 faculty members at University Park. The proposed work will accommodate this growth and also provide appropriate research space for the college’s increasing research portfolio, which exceeded $150 million in fiscal year 2020. 

“With considerable support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the University is making a tremendous investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education with these projects for the College of Engineering,” Schwartz said, noting that a capital campaign is also underway to provide further project funding. 

According to Schwartz, the facilities plan implementation will help mitigate the college’s most pressing space limitations, as well as provide an opportunity to develop state-of-the-art infrastructure to support research and facilitate experiential learning.  

“Our plans are more than bricks and steel,” Schwartz said. “They are enhancing our ability to prepare future generations of Penn State engineers for impactful careers and to conduct transformative research.”

Last Updated May 07, 2021