Elevator Addition - Study & Design

Penn State University - Schuylkill Campus Schuylkill Haven, PA



The Penn State Schuylkill Campus Administration Building is housed in an early 20th century building which once served as the Schuylkill County Almshouse Infirmary. Having undergone numerous renovations over the years the building now houses administrative offices, classroom spaces and the campus police department. It is located along the campus’ main thoroughfare and is a primary destination on campus. Although upgrades to the building have been made over the years, access between the three occupied floors is still only accommodated by stairwells. We assisted with planning and design of a new elevator addition which would connect the three floors of the building providing increased accessibility and functionality for staff and students.

Solution Details

We worked with the campus and Penn State architects to develop design objectives for the project and reviewed several possible locations for the addition. Locating the elevator proved to be challenging because corridors did not fully align between each floor and any location selected required modification of existing interior spaces. Consideration was given to locating the elevator interior to the building as well as at the east end of the building in an existing stair tower. Ultimately the north side of the building was selected for an elevator addition. This avoided the complexity of constructing an elevator within the existing structure and also minimized disruption to and loss of existing space in the building. Some reconfiguration of interior spaces was still required at the ground and second floors to connect to the elevator but could be accommodated with the proposed location.

An added benefit to locating the elevator on the north side of the building was that it provided an opportunity to look at entrance improvements to the rear of the building. Although the building’s original main entrance is located on the south along the main campus walk, many staff and visitors access the Administration Building through the rear. Currently the north entrance lacks a vestibule and there is little visual hierarchy on the façade. By locating the addition at the entrance point the design was able to articulate the entrance visually for visitors as well as provide a vestibule transitioning to the interior of the building.

We prepared a number of design concepts and associated cost opinions for the addition. Early designs were for a traditionally detailed addition, following precedent set by the original colonial revival building. After a series of reviews with the University it was decided to pursue a more modern addition.

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3 story building

1913 year built