As part of its program to enhance residential life at its growing Harrisburg campus — and to accommodate student demand for on-campus housing, Pennsylvania State University undertook the construction of a 101-unit, LEED Silver freshman dormitory. Duffield Associates provided complete site/civil and structural/geotechnical engineering services in support of this project.

The four-story building is banked into a hill on the eastern edge of the main campus.  The site design considers the relationship of the proposed building with the rest of the campus, especially the adjacent housing and multi-purpose buildings, and improves the overall unity and efficiency of the area. Other important site design elements include a sloped lawn area in front of the building, a restored natural landscape featuring native trees and groundcover, and an emergency vehicle access road stabilized by a turf paver reinforcement system.

Stormwater is managed through a series of connected rain gardens, runoff reduction and water quality-improving green infrastructure features that also function as aesthetic elements within the landscape. Local, state, and federal permits were secured during the design phase in support of the project. Site and utility designs comply with municipal and Penn State University standards.

As part of the overall sustainable design strategy, the structural system of precast concrete plank and concrete masonry walls was chosen for its attendant reduction in building volume, building envelope, and extent of interior finishes. The sloped roof over both residential wings is constructed of economical, locally produced manufactured wood trusses. Structural challenges included accommodating a large number of penetrations in the shear and bearing walls in order to gain a more open and articulated plan.

A geotechnical investigation, geotechnical engineering, stormwater infiltration testing, and construction review were also provided on this project.