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15 April 2019

Penn State Hosts Ribbon Cutting for HOK-Designed Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building

The new Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (CBE) Building on the Penn State University Park campus will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and discovery between different departments.

The recently completed $144 million building was designed by HOK with construction managed by general contracting company Barton Malow. The six-story structure features a variety of laboratories, classrooms and conference rooms, student common areas, the Dow Chemical Knowledge Commons collaborative student space, and an auditorium for presentations and classes that holds approximately 150 people.

In remarks at the building’s April 4 opening ceremony, Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of the Penn State College of Engineering, discussed the high-impact research and teaching that will happen in the building, with great potential benefits for society.

“It will allow the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Biomedical Engineering to continue to thrive as they inspire change and impact tomorrow,” said Schwartz. “It’s here that students will grow into world-class, socially aware, globally connected engineers, educators and researchers who work inclusively to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. With this space and state-of-the-art instruments, students and researchers alike wield the tools necessary to engineer results where we need them most.”

Since the 2012-2013 school year, the Department of Biomedical Engineering has grown from nine to 20 faculty members with plans to hire four more in the next several years. The number of students has also expanded rapidly.

Research at the CBE Building will be conducted in labs with several unique features. Many of the teaching and research labs are situated along corridors with transparent glass walls that enable visitors and prospective students to observe the work happening within. The walls outside the labs serve as magnetic whiteboards for writing formulas and facilitating impromptu discussions. Also, instead of being completely separated in different rooms, many of the labs will be in an open format in a large room, known as a “lab neighborhood.”

HOK’s project team at the April 4 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Another feature has less to do with the CBE Building itself, and more to do with its location. Situated in the middle of University Park’s life sciences, chemical sciences and materials sciences hub, the CBE Building is well-positioned for interdisciplinary collaboration.

The building was constructed with environmental concerns in mind. It was aligned as not to disturb the root systems of the nearby dawn redwood trees, and more than one ton of recycled glass was used for the terrazzo floor in the main lobby.

The new amenities are expected to help attract top faculty members and students to both departments. Staff and some faculty members and graduate students have moved into their new office spaces, with the rest of the faculty and graduate students moving in during late spring and early summer. Labs are scheduled to be fully functional by late summer, with the first classes in the new building taking place this fall.

Penn State News