‘A House in the Woods,’ A Home for Hospitality
Penn State University, Marriott Foundation Building Renovation
To Project Types
STATE COLLEGE, PA | 9,000 SF
(new major) as the Marriott Foundation Building
Tucked away into a grove of trees at the edge of Penn State’s main campus, architect Robert Venturi initially envisioned the Oak Building as a ‘house in the woods’—a secluded faculty club—where professors could relax, exercise, and socialize.
When it opened, deep soffits and lattice window screens fostered the play of light across crisp, green walls, evoking a forest interior within its main hall. But as it was adapted for changing uses, much of its charm was lost to ad hoc interventions. Its clerestory windows were covered, screens were stripped away, and its signature round, interior window was boarded up.
Turning the building into a home for the School of Hospitality Management’s Learning Center for Hospitality, Inclusion, and Innovation (LCHII) required tact and vision. Sensitive to the building’s historical importance, GBBN’s renovation restored much of what had been lost or covered over while introducing distinctly new elements—such as the fins in the main space—to reinforce the original design intent and bolster LCHII’s mission to welcome, support, and inspire.
Sensitive to the building’s historical importance, GBBN’s renovation restored much of what had been lost or covered over while introducing distinctly new elements...
The heart of the building is the Events Lab. Located in the main hall, the Events Lab pulls double duty as a classroom and event space. It opens directly to exterior spaces and is supported by a serving kitchen, the Beverage Lab, and a lounge. Together, the entire ground floor supports an experiential learning model by providing everything needed to host hospitality events.
Additional conference rooms, graduate student offices, a studio, and maker space are housed in the building’s upper and lower levels. A new use secured; the building’s legacy is restored.
- Light and warmth infuse the interior.
- Restored windows reinforce the connection between inside and outside.
- Renewed landscaping around the Marriott Foundation Building connects the native landscape of the campus edge and the manicured look of its core.
- Second floor classrooms stress flexibility.
- The building's organic form, color, and material palette make it at home in its context.
- Second floor classrooms are intimate and technology-infused.
- Exterior spaces expand the Events Lab, enabling larger events to enjoy this beautiful corner of campus.