Design and Construction Standards


This manual of Design and Construction Standards has been prepared by the University to guide Architects and Engineers, hereinafter referred to as the Professional, commissioned to design buildings and other facilities for The Pennsylvania State University.  The information contained herein applies to the University Park Campus and all other Campuses; Penn State Health Milton S Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine; and all other locations.

However, as a fully functioning healthcare institution, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center occupies a unique position within the University system, and therefore has many requirements and regulations that do not apply to other University locations.  All construction firms performing work at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center must have their project managers and superintendents ASHE Healthcare Construction Certified.   Section 01 35 13 of the Penn State Manual of Design and Construction Standards describes specific requirements that apply only to projects at Milton S Hershey Medical Center. In addition, design guidelines, interior standards, and important policies applicable only to MSHMC may be found at the following location:  Contractor Resources – Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine | Penn State Health

This manual is the result of considerable experience in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a substantial number of physical facilities.  It is intended that the material included in this manual shall be applied in the preparation of documents for the design and construction of new buildings and renovations to existing physical facilities.  If the Professional believes that a specific situation requires a deviation from the standards contained in this manual, the Professional should discuss such a deviation with the University Project Manager, and request in writing that a special exception be approved.

All buildings and other projects for the University shall be designed as quality institutional facilities with components specified to provide maximum life-cycle usefulness.  The University establishes the total project budget, including the maximum fund available for construction.  The Professional is charged to monitor program requirements and cost estimates to assure that the project is designed within available funding, and that it does not deviate from the quality standards established in this manual.

The Professional shall design the project in compliance with all applicable Federal, State and Local codes, ordinances, laws and other regulations which have jurisdiction over the nature of the construction.  If any of the above are at variance with the material in this manual, the most demanding requirements shall be observed.  Note that due its size and breadth of operations, the University is subject to codes and regulations that are not normally encountered in typical construction projects.

The University has a commitment to environmental stewardship and requires the maximum possible use of sustainable and energy-efficient designs and specifications, for architectural, site, utility, structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work.  Refer to 01 80 00 Performance Requirements for the University's high performance standards that exceed building code minimum requirements.  The Professional should be aware that all designs will be reviewed by the University within this context.

Organization of the Design and Construction Standards

This manual is organized in a manner consistent with the Construction Specification Institute's MasterFormat - 2004 edition.  Content is arranged in 50 Divisions (00 through 49), although some Divisions are reserved for future use:

Division 00 - Procurement and Contracting Requirements:   documents practices related to the purchase of goods and services for purpose of planning, design and construction of physical facilities.  Content includes design contract agreements, construction contract general terms and conditions, and forms/tools for administering contracts.

Division 01 - General Requirements:  describe technical project requirements that overlap multiple building trades/systems, including project documentation, space planning, site layout, codes and regulations, and building performance requirements.

Division 02 - Existing Conditions:  describes technical project requirements related to a project site prior to the start of work, including demolition, hazardous material abatement, and site remediation.

Divisions 03 through 49:  describes technical requirements related to a specific building trade or system.  Note that not all Divisions are assigned or used in this manual.

Revisions of the Design and Construction Standards

Changing technology and changes in University requirements will require continuing revisions and updates to the standards from our own in-house staff.  If you would like to make recommendations to change/update the standards, or you identify errors in the standards that we should correct, please forward these items to  All proposed changes to the Design and Construction Standards are reviewed by a committee consisting of the Standards Coordinator and a Standards Team for consideration.  After review and approval of the Committee, the revisions will be made to the Standards.

Before starting a project for the University, all Professionals shall ensure that they review the Design and Construction Standards and note any recent updates from their most recent project.  Design professionals are responsible for executing their contract using the version of the standards as they existed on the day the contract was signed.  Version control of these standards is kept and is accessible using the "Tools" menu in the upper right hand corner for each page in the standards.

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Previous versions of the standards (before August 2017) have been archived in the Revision Log and Archive.

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