Whitaker Center Opens New Innovation Zone Featuring “Purposeful Gaming Studio”

Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, together with PNC Bank, announced the grand opening of the new 7,000-square-foot PNC Innovation Zone at Whitaker Center. The PNC Innovation Zone combines Whitaker Center’s existing 40-foot-tall Select Medical Digital Cinema with a newly constructed world-class purposeful gaming studio, designed by leading educational design architects Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates in collaboration with entertainment and technology giant Clair Global. To power the PNC Innovation Zone, Whitaker Center has also partnered with Comcast to become one of the region’s largest “Lift Zones” offering free, robust Wi-Fi to all guests.

This ground-breaking, first-of-its-kind facility will capitalize on the massive popularity of video games and esports while offering educational, experiential learning in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) to children eight years and older .

“Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts was founded more than 20 years ago by a group of extraordinary community and business leaders whose vision was to bring science and the arts together under one roof,” said Whitaker Center CEO, Ted Black. “Purposeful Gaming at the PNC Innovation Zone is a natural extension of our founders’ visionary leadership. By leveraging the popularity of video games and esports to stimulate interest in STEAM activities such as coding, graphic design and computer networking, PNC Innovation Zone will break down gender and equity barriers to technology and, ultimately, inspire the digital leaders of tomorrow through the science , art, and technology of purposeful gaming.”

With more than 90% of children playing video games and the growth of esports worldwide explosive, Whitaker Center and its partners saw an opportunity to offer students and their families a cool space to reconnect, share passions for gaming and esports and learn about coding, art and the technology embedded in video games. The PNC Innovation Zone will host weekly activities, led by certified educators, including creative design coding with Minecraft and Bloxels, building with Scrap Mechanic and Poly Bridge, as well as esports competitions, Girls in STEM and Surgery Live! Camps.

“The PNC Innovation Zone at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is a wonderful resource that combines play with learning to help our young people explore their interests in STEAM,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC Bank regional president of Central Pennsylvania. “As a Main Street Bank and a technology leader, PNC is committed to making investments like this one in our community to plant the seeds for the skilled, diverse, and innovative workforce of tomorrow.”

PNC Innovation Zone features:

  • 2,000-square-foot Purposeful Gaming Studio
    • Capacity for up to 30 gaming stations and 12 gaming consoles
    • 10 75-inch, high-definition flat screen televisions
    • 12-foot, high-definition projection screen
    • Esports tiered seating for spectator viewing
    • Hi-tech conference room
    • 3,000 square foot lobby renovations
    • 40-foot-high screen for purposeful gaming in Select Medical Digital Cinema

“When we first learned about this visionary project, we immediately became interested in joining the design team to help build out this space,” said Shaun Clair, vice president of sales at Clair Global. “As a global leader in technology and production, we are thrilled about the prospect of empowering young people to explore STEAM in a new and exciting way.”

The PNC Innovation Zone hosts one of the region’s largest Comcast “Lift Zones” which provides free Wi-Fi access outside the home in neighborhood community centers. This effort is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive, 10-year, $1 billion commitment to help build a future of unlimited possibilities.

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