Student Health Center
University Park, PA

Jacob Brambley
Structural Option

 User Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work‐in‐progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Jacob Brambley. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.
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Building Statistics

General Building Data

Building Name: Student Health Center
Site: University Park, PA
Use: Health, Science, and Education
Size: 64,000 SF
Height: 77 ft, 5 stories
Construction Dates: October 2006 to May 2008
Approved Project Cost: $26 million
Project Delivery Method: Design-Bid-Build

Project Team:

Owner Pennsylvania State University
Architect RMJM Hillier
Structural Engineer Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.
Civil Engineer Gannett Fleming
MEP Engineer BR&A / Bard, Rao, and Athanas
CM Firm Whiting - Turner

Architectural Aspects


The Student Health Center is the home of University Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services at Penn State. It was designed in such a way as to be open, inviting, and health-enhancing. A large curtain wall spans the entire south facade, letting in more natural light and opening up views of the surrounding campus. Metal panels are utilized to accent this curtain wall and break up a large expanse of glass. The base of the SHC is face brick accented with cast stone masonry bands. This building skin helps the building compliment the surrounding Penn State architecture. Rooftop mechanical equipment is shielded from view through use of a screenwall. A green roof is also present on top of the building, showcasing sustainability and giving a natural atmosphere to the occupants on the upper floors.

The interior spaces are designed to separate the main functions of the building. The first floor is mostly public space with reception and information services, as well as, a pharmacy. More private exam and procedure rooms are placed on the second and third floors. Counseling and Psychological Services and administrative offices are on the fourth floor.

Major National Model Codes Used:

International Building Code (IBC)/2003 with Borough Amendments
International Mechanical Code (IMC)/2003 with Borough Amendments
International Plumbing Code (IPC)/2003 with Borough Amendments
International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)/2003 with Borough Amendments
International Code Council Electrical Code (ICCEC)/2003
International Fire Code (IFC)/2003

Zoning / Historical Requirements:

State College Borough - University Planned District (UPD). No historic requirements.

Building Enclosure

As mentioned above, the building is enclosed with a mixture of face brick and curtain wall. The brick is showcased on the lower floors and uses cast stone masonry bands as accents. Sitting atop the brick base is a curtain wall facade, which is prominent on the southern side of the building. The glass on these walls are contrasted using metal panels. On the roof, the mechanical equipment is hidden through use of a perimeter screenwall.

There are two types of roof systems on the Student Health Center. One roof system is composed of 5-1/4” normal weight concrete fill on 3”‐20 gage galvanized composite floor deck LOK floor. This system is on the main roof level. A green roof is also present on this level, as well as, on the north side of the fifth level. These green roof components sit atop the 8-1/4" standard roof structure.

Sustainability Features

The SHC has two prominent features in the department of sustainability. The south-facing curtain wall is in place to allow for natural daylighting. This reduces electricity use by decreasing lighting needs in these areas. The other major sustainability feature is the green roof. Stormwater runoff and heating/cooling costs are reduced by using a green roof system.









Primary Structural Systems


Floors of the Student Health Center are made of 3 1/4” lightweight concrete fill on 2”‐ 20 gage galvanized composite floor deck LOK floor for a total slab thickness of 5 1/4". Also included are 3/4ф x 4” long shear studs equally spaced along the entire lengths of all interior beams and girders that are not part of the partially‐restrained moment frame. The shear studs are not on the moment frame because the beams on the frame cannot be too rigid so that they can deform. This composite floor deck is supported by steel W‐shape beams spanning between steel columns. Bay sizes vary but the average is about 20 ft x 30 ft. Floor beams are typically W16s but range size from W12s to W30s depending on location. Columns that support these beams are either W14, round HSS, or square HSS shaped beams.

For the partially-restrained moment frame, W14s are used for columns exclusively. Columns are spliced just above the third level. There are eight frames in this building designed to resist lateral loads, with seven running in the N-S direction and one large frame running in the E-W direction. Flexible moment connections are used for connections of beams to columns.

The roof system is composed of 5 1/4” normal weight concrete fill on 3”‐20 gage galvanized composite floor deck LOK floor for a total slab thickness of 8 1/4".

The foundation of the SHC is composed of grade beams and piers that are supported by mini‐piles with pile caps. The mini‐piles are arranged in configurations of 1‐5 piles per pile cap. These piles extend to a depth of around 45 feet and have an 80 ton allowable capacity. The partially-restrained moment frame is either connected directly to a pile cap or to a concrete pier.


Site Utility work was done from May to September 2006. Construction on the Student Health Center began in October 2006 and substantial completion was reach in May 2008. Being a LEED certified building; a certain amount of care had to taken in construction of this building. Construction of the green roof posed a few minor challenges, due to it being one of the first on the Penn State campus, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Lighting / Electrical

Power to the SHC is supplied through feeders into the main electrical room, in the northwest side of the building. The feeders are directed to a switchgear (480/277V, 3ø, 4W, 60HZ, 1600A BUS 65KAIC), which distributes power to distribution panels located throughout the building. Distribution panels are either 277/480V, 3ø, 4W or 120/208V, 3ø, 4W systems depending on use. Emergency and stand-by power feeders are provided by the university and are fed to the various emergency loads of the building. Lighting fixtures used within the building are largely fluorescent fixtures but there are also compact fluorescents and LEDs utilized.


Two air handling units located on the roof feed air into the Student Health Center. Airflow is regulated through use of a combination of VAV and CAV boxes. Fan coil units are located in pharmacy and laboratory spaces. The SHC also utilizes radiant panels around the perimeter of the building to combat heat losses due to the large expanses of glass.

Engineering Support Systems

Fire Protection

Due to the SHC being classified as IIB Construction, a 2-hour fire rating is utilized at the egress stairs and elevator shafts. The building is fully sprinklered with a standpipe system. Fire alarms and smoke detectors are also included throughout the building, to ensure the safety of the occupants.


The main entrance is on the north side of the second level of the SHC. There are two stairwells, one in the SW corner which runs up to the 5th level and one in the SE corner which extends further for access to the main roof. Two elevators are also in the SE corner.


Information on telecommunications will be posted at a later time.

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      This page was last updated on December 30, 2009, by Jacob Brambley and is hosted by the Architectural Engineering Department © 2009