Committee approves design build team for Ostermayer Laboratory overhaul

Ostermayer Laboratory

Originally built in 1972, the 21,700-square-foot facility will undergo a $14 million renovation beginning in spring 2020.

Credit: Penn State

McKEESPORT, Pa. – In a region populated with universities, Penn State Greater Allegheny is positioned to be at the forefront of science education and research. On Feb. 21, the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning accepted the proposal from Turner Construction Co. of Pittsburgh, as the design build team for renovations to the Ostermayer Laboratory at Penn State Greater Allegheny.

Originally built in 1972, the 21,700-square-foot building is set to undergo a $14 million renovation in spring 2020 with an approximated completion date of January 2021.

Currently, Ostermayer Laboratory houses two biology and two chemistry teaching laboratories, along with four research laboratory spaces, a laboratory preparation space, faculty and staff offices, and one general purpose classroom. 

The renovation project involves updating and installing state-of-the-art laboratory and safety equipment; research laboratories; common and collaborative spaces; additional classrooms; a multi-purpose room; and a space for enhanced research. 

“We have faculty conducting research in our science programs who are securing grants for their work, and the new lab space will allow them to advance their research on our campus,” said Jacqueline Edmondson, chancellor and chief academic officer.   

Greater Allegheny faculty regularly engage students in research ventures. The Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience, or CURE, program, led by Megan Nagel, associate professor of chemistry, and Kristal Tucker, assistant professor of biology, brings together students in the campus’s popular biobehavioral health major with 2+2 students pursuing engineering fields. “The upgraded labs will allow for cutting-edge research opportunities for students,” said Edmondson. 

As administrators planned for the renovation, key leaders visited other Penn State campuses to find inspiration. Through informal surveying of the current student population, Greater Allegheny received feedback as to what would be most helpful for students and their studies.

“We visited laboratory and teaching facilities on both [Penn State] Berks and Hazelton campuses,” said Adam Homer, operations and physical plant manager. “During these visits, we met with various faculty and academic leaders to discuss their projects, the design process and lessons learned.”

The almost two-year long renovation project will expand campus resources and cause little interruption to campus operations.     

Penn State has secured a temporary mobile laboratory facility to use while the Ostermayer Laboratory is offline. “The structure was utilized on both Berks and Hazelton campuses,” said Homer. “This temporary [mobile] laboratory facility was delivered to the Greater Allegheny campus, and will be installed late spring of 2019.”

When the Ostermayer Laboratory reopens, “We envision a place to prominently display student work and to provide a space on campus that fosters creativity and collaboration as part of a 21stcentury science education experience,” said Nagel.