The Pennsylvania State University, Biobehavioral Health Building
University Park, Pennsylvania
“Located on the University’s historic main quadrangle, The College of Health and Human Development is dedicated to the improvement of human well-being through an integrated program that combines education, outreach programs, clinics, and research centers. The Biobehavioral Health Building represents the initial step in a multi-phased plan to unite all eight of the College’s interdisciplinary research centers with their associated academic departments.”
Recent growth within the College of Health and Human Development has focused upon advanced research initiatives that provide societally conscious support to increasingly complex health-related issues. The Biobehavioral Health Building initiated the master-planned expansion that brings together all of the College’s research centers, encouraging interaction between researchers, students and faculty.
Occupying a prominent location amidst stately buildings that line the broad tree-lined pedestrian malls on campus to the west and the lively student union lawn to the east, the narrow site posed a unique challenge in designing a building that would mediate between the two spaces. The building responds by organizing program spaces within a layered plan, effectively connecting these two domains. The building relates in proportion and scale to the nearby Classical Revival buildings, while materials and details draw intentionally from its immediate neighbor and founding edifice of the College, Henderson Building.
Views from the building to the lawn are enhanced by a glass enclosed array of interconnecting stairs that demonstrably and symbolically link all floors of the building, sharing in the activity of the lawn and serving as a luminous destination during the evening. A broad entry and seating terrace collect students from the expansive green space, concealing a 200-seat lecture hall situated beneath the treasured landscape.