Friday, May 19, 2006

I'll believe it when I see it

Don't turn your back on Penn State for a second.

No wrecking ball for Trickett Hall
By David Blymire, Sentinel Reporter, May 19, 2006

Score one for the preservationists.

Amid growing opposition, Penn State University has decided to scrap its plans for a modern Dickinson School of Law building.

Trickett Hall will be spared from the wrecking ball and preserved as the centerpiece of a $30 million construction project at the South College Street site.

"Instead of building a new law school facility, our plan now is to undertake an extensive renovation... which we believe still will enable us to achieve our objective as a unified two-campus law school," Dean Philip McConnaughay said Thursday.

The dean said Penn State had hoped to complete a $50 million project in Carlisle, "but the recent climate of opposition interfered with our ability to reach our financial goal and appeared to threaten ongoing delays and frustration in our ability to complete our new building in a timely fashion."

Area residents and historic preservationists collected more than 2,500 signatures on petitions and asked Carlisle Borough Council, Gov. Ed Rendell and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to intervene.

Two of the residents this morning were very happy with the announcement.

"Wow," was all Judi Shunk initially could say when she learned that Trickett would be retained.

Shunk took the group’s plea to borough council last week as residents packed borough hall for the council meeting.

"I am sitting here and I am smiling," she said this morning. "That’s probably the reaction of the committee. We are absolutely heartened by the decision."

Charles Andrews called the announcement "wonderful news" and added, "I applaud the decision. I think its the appropriate thing to do."
Previous plans

Penn State hired Polshek Partnership Architects of New York last fall to design new law school facilities for the campuses in State College and Carlisle.

The architects drew up plans for a long, narrow curvilinear structure at each location with a three-story, 80,000-square-foot structure planned for the Carlisle campus.

But those plans have been tossed aside and officials are starting over.

"The architects are now taking a fresh look at what we can do," McConnaughay said.

He said Penn State is aiming to complete renovations by January 2009 but the change of plans could delay the reopening of the building by six months.

With the recent change in direction, the dean couldn’t provide many details of the new plans.

"We will end up with a facility that is very nicely renovated and probably will provide as much...operating space as the new facility would have provided," he said. "Right now, we contemplate an extensive renovation rather than new construction."

He said the law school is still planning to move most of its operations to the Advantica building on Harrisburg Pike in Middlesex Township this summer.

The law school would remain there until the project at Trickett Hall is complete.

Some offices may remain behind at the Trickett Hall site, he added.

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