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Penn State Berks to hold groundbreaking ceremony for new building

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Penn State Berks will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new academic building on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. The ceremony will be held at the building site, between the campus' Franco Building and Thun Library, located just off Broadcasting Road.

The 58,000-square-foot classroom and laboratory building will free up much-needed space in other campus facilities. Alvin H. Butz Inc., Allentown, will manage construction. "We are at 95 percent occupancy in our classrooms during the day, and we have no occupancy in our classrooms at night," said Chancellor Susan Phillips Speece.

The international architectural firm RMJM Hillier was given a daunting challenge: design a new academic building that would meet the complex and varied needs of the Business, Engineering, and Information Sciences and Technology (BEIST) Division, meet requirements of The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, and fit into the picturesque landscape of Penn State Berks.

They rose to the challenge with their schematic design concept for the new building, which has been dubbed the BEIST for the division it will house. The $25.6 million project, which is slated for completion in the spring of 2012, will make use of technology in keeping with the college's commitment to the environment.

The terra cotta, concrete and glass building would provide space for courses in business, engineering and information sciences and technology, as well as hotel, restaurant and institutional management.

The three-story facility will be the largest building on campus, Speece said. The facility will feature nine classrooms, 13 labs, a lecture hall, conference rooms, and dozens of faculty and administrative offices. The Chancellor's Office, a design studio, student study areas, and a cafe also will also be housed in the building.

Relocating classrooms and faculty offices to the new building would free up space in the Luerssen and Franco buildings on campus.

With an enrollment of 2,759 students, Penn State Berks offers 15 baccalaureate degrees, eight associate degrees and a variety of continuing education courses. Students can also take the first two years of 160 bachelor degree programs that can be completed at other Penn State campuses. The college provides a rich student life, with 800 students living in residence halls, a wide variety of clubs and organizations, cultural events, lectures, and many other activities. In addition, Penn State Berks is a full member of NCAA Division III.
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