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SEED completes container library for the African Library Project

In 2009, a small group of architecture students came together with two goals: to establish a student group focused on sustainable design and to contribute in a meaningful way to the African Library Project. Six years later, the Students for Environmentally Enlightened Design (SEED) group is celebrating tremendous success on both fronts.

Not only has the group grown into a multi-disciplinary collaboration of students of architecture, engineering, and graphic design (among others), but those students have transformed a once-empty 40’ shipping container into a solar-powered library, complete with interior lighting and fans and an external shading device. The group partnered with a local electrician who generously donated all labor and materials to connect the power.

The library will leave University Park at the end of the month for its journey of distribution and relocation. In partnership with the African Library Project, the library is fully stocked with books and will serve multiple communities in Kenya before arriving at its final destination at a Wamnuya, Kenya primary school.

Addie Rabold (B.Arch ’18), current SEED vice-president, expressed relief at the culmination of SEED’s inaugural project and excitement for the future. The group has elected a project chair, and while they are aiming for a project with a shorter term of life, they are committed to creating significant impact. “We are ready to invest in a new project and reconsider what SEED can accomplish,” said Rabold. In keeping true to the ethos of sustainable design, the group is hoping to repurpose remaining materials, such as spare solar panels, into their next effort.

SEED president, Bridget Novielli (B.Arch ’18) originally joined SEED in her first year at Penn State because she knew she wanted to be involved in sustainable design. Through her work with SEED’s foundational initiative, Bridget discovered her potential to influence the reach of sustainable design within her own Penn State community through advocacy. “Because it’s important to me, I want to make it more prevalent here.”

While both Novielli and Rabold feel passionately about expanding the enthusiasm for sustainable design across disciplines, they also recognized the faculty and staff whose dedication to project gave it the support to outlast the graduation of SEED’s founding student leaders.

“We couldn’t have accomplished our goal without the technical support of the (Stuckeman School) shop staff (Jamie Heilman, Allan Sutley, and Steve White),” asserted Rabold. Norielli also credited architecture faculty members Ute Poerschke, Loukas Kalisperis, and Lisa Domenica Iulo for their support, as well as Andrew Sicree from the department of science, engineering and technology at Penn State Harrisburg.

From recruiting energetic members like Rabold to SEED (“Bridget roped me in!”), to reaching out for collaborative efforts with other student leaders within the College of Arts and Architecture, Novielli is doing her part to ensure that the SEED group continues to grow and flourish. With the student leadership support from Rabold and the rest of the board, the future of SEED looks bright.

Any Penn State students who are interested in contributing to SEED’s upcoming endeavors are encouraged to join SEED! For more information, contact Bridget Novielli at

Penn State faculty, staff and students standing in front of container library
Students standing in front of library built in a shipping container
Students standing in narrow library built in a shipping container