The facility serves primarily first year students, and it was therefore important that the design supports social aspects of young adult living as well as meeting residential needs including kitchens. The design solution is a hybrid living experience that integrates private apartment living with a traditional dormitory experience. A variety of spaces for study and socializing are distributed throughout all five floors of the building in the daylit ‘knuckles’ at the ends of the corridors of the three wings of the building. These areas have expansive views of the surrounding neighborhood and greenspace. Sustainability was a key goal of the project, and strategies include rain gardens, daylighting/orientation, operable windows, low flow/dual flush plumbing fixtures, and energy recovering units located in each wing of the building.
"Lions Gate represents the architecture of possibility, the gateway to living and learning in a global research university, an entry point into a world of opportunities. These students come together as strangers and will eventually leave Abington as Penn Staters, a community of lifelong friends empowered to make the world a better place."
Chancellor Damian J. Fernandez
Penn State Abington
Although the facility fulfills a specific need for the University, it was designed with the larger community in mind. The building is located on the site of an abandoned car dealership and transforms an expansive impervious surface parking lot into an active residence surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The potential mass of the five story structure is broken down into three wings so that the entire footprint is never experienced at one time. A mix of materials further break down the scale of the wings, as do the transparent corner links and stepping of the floors at the ends of the wings. The facility was designed and is operated to support multi-modal transportation through a campus shuttle system, public transportation, pedestrian amenities, covered bicycled storage, and car and bike share programs.