Features | Campus

The rededication of Penrose Hall: A 21st century renovation for a beloved dormitory

by Susanne Lane
Fall 2019/Winter 2020 

The September 3 ceremony rededicating Penrose Hall provided an abundance of reasons to celebrate. The event took on added dimensions with the presence of three members of the Penrose family as well as multiple former recipients of the Penrose Award. The residence hall was named for Dr. Stephen B. L. Penrose Jr., AUB’s fourth president, who died while in office in 1954. For President Penrose’s daughter, Dale Penrose Harrell, the re-dedication marked her first return to campus in 64 years. She was joined by her brother, Stephen Penrose III, and his daughter, Kate Penrose. Former Penrose Award winners were visibly moved to connect with family members of the president who was known for his tireless and innovative work on behalf of the university.

Stephen Penrose addressed the crowd saying he felt both pride and humility: “Pride that my father’s name is associated with an award that celebrates academic excellence, character, leadership, and contribution to university life.” He added, “It is simply not possible for me to be in the presence of so many whose character and accomplish-ments, during your times at AUB and afterwards, are indeed that extraordinary, and that inspiring, without feeling a deep sense of humility.”

Ghadeer Hamati (BBA ’16) was one of the Penrose awardees who attended the rededication. She remembers that receiving the Penrose Award “made me feel like AUB saw me for who I am and was honoring me for what I had done—not just academically, but for who I am as a person and my passion for student life. The Penrose Award is a constant reminder of the impact I can create every single day in any community!”

Also cause for celebration was the recently earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for the new Penrose Hall. It is the first LEED Gold certification for a renovated building on campus and it represents an important milestone in AUB’s campus master plan. The transformation is thanks to the hard work of Senior Director of Facilities Bassem Barhoumi and the team at AUB’s Facilities Planning and Design Unit. Penrose Hall includes 106 rooms for 266 students (six rooms are ADA compliant for students with special needs), study areas, TV lounges, outside gardens, and extensive landscaping.

It’s not easy to earn LEED Gold certification—especially for an old building. “The way it works,” explains Barhoumi, “is that you earn points for implementing different energy efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly features in the design, construction, and operation of the building. Depending on the number of points you earn, you are either certified with LEED, LEED silver, gold, or platinum certification.”

What are the features that earned Penrose Hall its LEED Gold certification? They relate to the quality of indoor spaces, the percentage of open spaces surrounding the building that encourage interaction with the environment, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and the materials that were used in the renovation.

President Fadlo R. Khuri enumerated some of those features during the re-dedication ceremony. “We have installed reflective materials on the roof and interior passages to reduce the heat island effect and minimize the building’s impact on microclimate and human and wildlife habitats; we anticipate a 29.4 percent reduction in total energy cost for this building thanks to the use of low-e glazing and construction materials that have special thermal properties, efficient HVAC systems, and lighting fixtures; and we project an increase in the self-supply of renewable energy by sourcing a quarter (23.59 percent) of total energy by cost from renewable energy.”

As students filled the new spaces, getting ready for the academic year, they may not have been thinking about history and the man their residence hall was named for. But outside, former President Penrose was very much on his son’s mind:

“History attests to his steadfast commitment to principles of integrity, transparency, collaboration, fairness, and above all, respect,” he said. “My father loved AUB and was absolutely dedicated to providing opportunities for its students in a rapidly changing world. That Penrose Hall has been, and will be hereafter, a home for students of many cultures, faiths, and interests would please him greatly.”