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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Gannon’s I-HACK Building: New Life for an Erie Landmark 

Jack Hanrahan, The Erie Times News The I-Hack prior to construction in April 2016.

Gannon is finishing renovations on the sixth floor of the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge or the I-HACK building. According to the Gannon University website, these developments are being made to “establish The Center for Manufacturing and Technology, Gannon’s high-tech and versatile MakerSpace”. Construction is set to conclude in time for the projected opening in October.  

For many long-time Erie residents, the history of the I-HACK building has sentimental significance. Prior to Gannon acquiring the building, it was a very boxy, industrial looking structure with minimal windows.  

The exterior of the building still had the current gray brick with white horizontal strips marking each floor from the outside. Hoisted up off the ground by pegs of steel and concrete, the structure hovered over the parking spots that sat underneath. This is how most Erie residents remember the building. 

Growing up in Erie, I can recall walking past this floating rectangular building almost daily. I remember walking hand in hand with my mother on the way to my daycare at the Downtown YMCA looking up at his tall boxy structure and wondering what was inside. 

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 I could envision the hard-working adults who would make their morning commute and then come in with a cup of coffee in hand ready to take on the workday.

Built in 1973, the former Verizon call center located at 131 W. Ninth St. was once a very prominent workspace for many Erie residents. After the call center was closed by Verizon in 2014, the hundreds of employees that once occupied the building were narrowed down to four, according to Jim Martin’s 2016 article  

“Gannon University buys Verizon’s Erie call center building” for Erie Times-News.  

For a couple of years, the Verizon call center sat vacant, mostly empty and void of human populous. In 2016 that all changed when Gannon purchased the building for $1.6 million and transformed it into their temporary library while the Nash library was being renovated. According to Martin’s article, the university had looked at over 10 different possible locations for the temporary library before Verizon themselves produced the offer to sell Gannon the property.  

Numerous Erie residents have thought of the building as a local landmark and appreciate the innovations that Gannon has made so far. “I remember when the I-HACK was the old Verizon building. It was nice to see that Gannon had acquired the building because they bring a new life into those buildings and spaces.” said one local Erie resident. 

After the library moved back into the Nash location, the building once again sat vacant, still under Gannon’s ownership. Ideas of what should be done with the building were flourishing. This was until 2018 when the building once again started to buzz, this time with the tools of the construction crews. 

According to the Gannon website, the university received donations from a number of donors including Erie Insurance and alumni Pierre McCormick ’79 to break ground and start the initial renovations for what would be the I-HACK. 

For this first cycle of construction, estimated to be worth about $13 million, the exterior and the first and second floors of the 100,00-square-foot structure were the focus. The first floor is a lobby space with couches and seating for students to use.  

The second floor and third floor, also known as The Hatchery, which was part of the second phase of construction estimated to cost about $28 million, both contain high-tech, modern classrooms and more seating for students to use as study spaces or to relax between classes.  

This project was intended to be a multi-phase process, so that the building could be use much sooner, giving the students another readily available workspace. 

Today the I-Hack building has been given a whole new life. Now the building is buzzing with students from all over the world in pursuit of a new degree in cyber professions.  

“The place has a freshness to it compared to the other buildings—it’s much more modern.” stated one current Gannon student. When asked about their favorite part of the I-HACK they went on to describe the convenient study rooms. “They just have more comfort to them than any of the other buildings I’ve been to,” the student continued.  

As October approaches and anticipation builds for the unveiling of the newly renovated sixth floor of the I-HACK building, there is much hope to be felt for the future of the university and incoming students. The local Erie resident states, “For what it’s worth, it’s a great collaborative space for innovation—something that can truly benefit Erie and our growth.” 

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