Penn State Polycultural Campus

An active, year-round agricultural campus supports research and education and creates a new outlet for local agriculture through public markets and community events.


The Penn State polycultural campus is a hub of agricultural research and education that supports a robust outreach program through public spaces, a farmers’ market, and community center. The site slopes down into a central market plaza that serves as the heart of the campus. The three buildings on site are separated by program — research, education, and outreach — and are oriented towards the central plaza. The placement and design of the buildings references a “bank barn” layout, where each structure is built into the sloped site so that both the upper and the lower floors area can be accessed from ground level.

A pedestrian footbridge extends across the site to connect all three structures. A ‘sliding shed’ moves on tracks between buildings to cover various parts of the campus, allowing programming to expand and contract with the seasons. The many welcoming public spaces of the site are designed to inform and teach public visitors about the ideals of a self-sustaining local agriculture.

The parking lot that supports the market and other outreach events is made entirely of permeable paving and combines parking spaces and drives with public parks to seamlessly integrate with the site. Because the site is next to Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, the parking lot was also designed to accommodate tailgating and seasonally extend into nearby fields.


A sliding shed between buildings allows them to expand or contract with the seasons.


Shed over Auditorium
The shed creates a double-skin facade over the auditorium building and can also shift to cover the windows for exhibitions and performances.


Shed over Market Steps
The shed protects outdoor market events and exhibitions from the elements and signifies that the market is open.


Shed over Market Plaza
The shed protects the central plaza from the elements and signifies an event is occuring on campus.


Shed over Classroom Steps
The shed covers the outdoor classroom area to protect from the elements.

A comprehensive site plan orients all three buildings around a central plaza and prioritizes permeable green space and accessible public areas.


Each building transitions from indoor to outdoor programming as you move towards the center of the campus.


View of campus and agricultural fields from Park Avenue

The Education Building features indoor classrooms as well as outdoor classrooms with theater-style seating that can be covered by the sliding shed.


The Research Building houses agricultural laboratories, equipment garages, administrative offices, and a two-story research library.


©2020 Vonn Weisenberger