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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Pennsylvania State University, Susan Welch Liberal Arts Building Hosts ‘Topping Out’ Ceremony

The future home for several of Penn State’s social science departments. celebrated a significant milestone, bringing the project closer to completion.

“For students, the Welch Building will become their newest ‘place to find their place’ — a modern, innovative hub of scholarship, research and social activity where undergraduate and graduate students alike have the chance to learn and work alongside faculty; forge friendships and create a sense of community; and prepare for whatever personal or professional journeys await them."
Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts

A year after groundbreaking, faculty, staff, and project team members gathered once again to celebrate the official topping-off ceremony for the Susan Welch Liberal Arts Building. The 143,000-square-foot building will serve as the new home for the departments of Anthropology, Sociology/Criminology, Political Science and the School of Public Policy, the School of International Affairs, the Population Research Institute, the Matson Museum of Anthropology, as well as a host of other research centers and institutes. You can view the complete list of academic units that will be housed in the building on the College of Liberal Arts website.

Before hoisting the final beams onto the building’s steel structure, students, faculty, and project team members had the opportunity to sign the beams, one of which will remain visible within the completed building. In addition to these final beams, a separate ‘topping out’ ceremony was held earlier this month with a beam “signed” with tiny handprints by the children at the Child Care Center at Hort Wood––located across from the site––who have watched the construction since its groundbreaking.

Inspiring words were shared by Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts; Victor Romero, Interim Dean, Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs; Chad Spackman, Project Manager for Penn State; and Jodi Rennie, Sr VP, Turner Construction before guests viewed the project from up close. Allen Kachel, Senior Associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and Joe Campbell, Senior Project Manager at Turner Construction, led a site walk with the Deans, department heads, faculty, and researchers, including a 3D virtual tour showcasing the completed project.

Currently LEED v4 Certified and tracking LEED Silver, Penn State’s Susan Welch Liberal Arts Building will bring together multiple liberal arts and related disciplines previously distributed across campus, breaking down silos, encouraging interaction, and developing synergies. The completed project will also include several classrooms and open collaboration areas to support the needs of the entire university community.

Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, began the ceremony with a few words about the project’s beginnings and the value it will bring to the university’s social science students and researchers.
The schools’ Deans, department heads, faculty, and project team members gathered to commemorate this significant milestone.
A ceremonial tree and flag were placed on top of the beam, traditional symbols used when placing the final beam. One of the two final beams signed by students, faculty, and team members will remain exposed within the completed building.
A render of Susan Welch Liberal Arts Building’s exterior view from Allen Road, east of the building.