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The Arboretum at Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia, United States

Tuesday 10 Aug 2010

Overlooked but not to be forgotten...

Jeffrey Totaro 
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Overland Partners seek LEED Silver for Arboretum at Pennsylvania State University 

The long-awaited first phase of the H. O. Smith Botanic Gardens’ masterplan of The Arboretum at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is complete. The highlight of the project, the Overlook Pavilion, serves as the architectural anchor and the ‘front door’ to the 365-acre Arboretum at Penn State. It was designed by San Antonio-based Overland Partners Architects, in association with Pittsburgh-based MTR Landscape Architects, with the dual goal of creating a vibrant educational centre and a first-class events centre that contributes to the education and quality of life on campus and offers an opportunity for the community to engage with the university.

The Overlook Pavilion’s main purpose is to create distinct exterior spaces and house services for the Arboretum. It is comprised of two stone volumes that are tied together with a soaring roof structure and exterior porches made of steel and wood. The stone volumes contain public restrooms, volunteer offices, tool storage and mechanical spaces, while the roof structure and porches create a variety of outdoor areas and terraces to allow people to gather in small groups or for events accommodating up to 200 guests. It sits on the Arboretum’s highest point, acting as the link between the botanical gardens and event lawn to the south and the natural landscape and watershed to the north.

Currently seeking LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the Overlook Pavilion uses efficient geothermal ground source heat pumps for heating and cooling, utilises local and recycled content materials, contains a reflective roof to reduce the heat island affect, and employs an innovative storm water management system to educate visitors while using the collected water on site. These ‘green’ systems support the overall sustainable strategy of decreasing the impact of the structure by reducing enclosed conditioned program space and by providing visitors and staff comfortable exterior space.

Phase II of the Arboretum’s H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens’ masterplan includes the plantings of species from around the world and new state-of-the-art educational and research facilities, including a visitors' centre, conservatory and children's education centre. Once complete, The Arboretum and its H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens are expected to be a major cultural and tourist destination in central Pennsylvania, attracting nearly 200,000 visitors annually.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
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Overland Partners Architects

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