New entrance off Myers Drive highlights campus construction projects
CHEMISTRY LAB REMODELED;
PARKING LOT RECONFIGURED;
ATHLETICS CENTER COURTYARD REVAMPED
Rain gardens provide barriers to Myers Drive; Lion Shrine area gets a facelift
With the days getting shorter and temperatures getting lower, the construction season is winding down at Penn State New Kensington.
For the past seven months, a series of renovation projects were underway on the campus. Capital improvements include redesigned parking lots, upgrades of chemistry labs and refurbishing the entrance to the Athletics Center.
“The primary intent was to improve the safety and accessibility while using the opportunity to improve the image of the campus exterior,.” said Jason Bush, director of business and finance. “I think the last time the upper parking lot was reconstructed was over 20 years ago.”
The parking lot improvements were highlighted by the removal of the front entrance off Myers Drive that leads to the upper lot. A new road connects the back parking lot with the access ramp. The reconfiguration allows for the addition of 10 new parking spaces and increased handicapped and visitor parking. The entire lot was torn-up and graded, and a new concrete base was poured and paved with asphalt.
The chemistry lab in the Science Building was thoroughly renovated. The upgrades improved safety and will allow for more hands-on instruction that support requirements for chemistry and other disciplines.
The “greening” of the campus moved forward with the additions of two environmentally-friendly rain gardens that control storm water. The gardens serve as a barrier to the closed Myers Drive entrance. Other improvements include seating niches, green space and landscaping in the Nittany Lion shrine area near the front lot.
“These are improvements that you get to see, so they will be more appealing to students,” Bush said.
The Athletics Center exterior is also new and improved. The parking lot for the soccer field as well as the access road underwent the same reconstruction as the upper lot. Other improvements that are in the final stages of completion are the beautification of the courtyard area. Concrete was replaced and reconfigured. ADA accessibility was improved for the front entrance to the building. An outdoor bike rack was added for pedaling enthusiasts and a seating wall, expected to be completed by the end of November, will provide more leisure space for students.
Aerial view of the campus after the upgrades.
Upgrading athletic facilities is one of the objectives of the campus’ “For the Future” campaign to raise $3 million by June 2014. Envisioned as a four-phase process, the athletic facilities upgrades are geared to both students and athletes at the campus. When the seat wall is finished, the third phase will be finished as well.
The second phase ended a year ago and concentrated on the interior of Athletics Center. Enhancements involved refurbishing the Fitness Center, moving the women’s locker room upstairs and giving it a complete makeover, renovating the downstairs room to make way for cardiovascular equipment, and setting up a pilates/yoga studio. In addition to the indoor amenities, an artificial putting green and driving cage were installed outside the Athletics Center for the men’s and women’s golf team.
Plans for the final phase, an on-campus softball diamond, are underway and awaiting funding. The Lady’ Lions new home will be constructed on a parcel of campus property located below the soccer field. Support from alumni and friends is vital for the project to come to fruition. The softball team, ranked 19th nationally in the final 2012 United States Collegiate Athletic Association poll, currently plays its home games at a municipal field, Wolf Pack Park in Lower Burrell.