Mount Nittany Elementary School, State College Area School District

The new 60,500 SF Mount Nittany Elementary School was designed to house 400 K-5 students and allow for future expansion to accommodate 500 students. Learning space design focuses on a centrally-located learning resources center surrounded by large group instruction areas which branch into classroom learning areas. The classroom cluster structure allows for several levels of social and academic interaction, providing individual and group learning as well as typical classroom settings. One story at the entrance, the school expands to two stories linked by a series of ramps centrally located within the facility.

The planning process for the project included a Community Project Touchstone Dinner, a day-long goal-setting workshop, and design charrettes that brought together over 200 members of the school community, administration, faculty, staff and student body.

To function as a teaching tool, the building features a ‘Building Dashboard’ that helps students to be aware of how much energy is being used by the building; rain gardens and butterfly gardens visible through windows; and a building compass built into the floor surfacing.

Certified LEED Silver, the facility includes sustainable features such as a ground source heat pump and reflective roof systems. Roof monitors allow for bilateral daylighting within classrooms and greatly reduce the need for artificial lighting. Rain gardens were created to aid with storm water control. The project utilizes high value wall insulation systems; low flow fixtures, exterior light shades and shelves; and reused, renewable and recycled materials.


State College Area School District


State College, Pennsylvania

Project Type

New Facility

Size in SF

60,500 total SF

Construction Value

$12.7 million

Year of Completion



  • Outstanding Design | American School & University Architectural Portfolio 2012
  • Project of Distinction | School Planning & Management Education Design Showcase 2012
  • Honorable Mention | Learning by Design 2012
  • Edward E. Kirkbride Award for Planning and Design Excellence | Council of Educational Facility
  • Planners International Northeast Region 2010