Some of the renovations made over the summer at Building C on Mountaintop Campus include a new entryway and glass wall. The renovation project is funded through alumni donations. (Maddie Braman/B&W Staff)

Summer construction impacts students working on Mountaintop Campus

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While the majority of the Lehigh student population leaves campus during the summer months, some stay behind and dedicate their time to Mountaintop or Launch Bay projects, summer courses and research in Iacocca Hall.

This summer, research opportunities were intertwined with challenges as buildings on Mountaintop campus underwent a series of renovations.

Building C, an E-shaped structure once owned by Bethlehem Steel, is expanding as part of the Path to Prominence initiative. The expansion began in September 2016 and is expected to be completed this December. A new entryway and glass wall were installed this summer. University architect Brent Stringfellow said the $20 million project is funded through a mixture of debt and gifts from alumni.

Mountaintop Campus has undergone renovations that began in Sept. 2016. The renovations project on Building C is a part of Lehigh’s ‘Path to Prominence’ initiative. (Courtesy of Brent Stringfellow)

“The ambition of the building is to have many interdisciplinary pieces,” Stringfellow said, “so people can make the most use of the infrastructure that is being provided.”

Stringfellow said enough construction was completed that high bay C2, one of the three large open spaces in Building C, was deemed usable for the Mountaintop program this summer. However, students and faculty still faced some inconveniences due to the remaining construction.

Bill Whitney, the administrative director for the Office of Vice Provost for Creative Inquiry, said the number of Mountaintop projects was reduced from 23 to 14 to accommodate for the construction and reduction of space.

The university also rented luxury restroom trailers for students and faculty working on projects.

Caleb Leaser, ’20, and Ian Black, ’18, worked on Mountaintop projects this summer.

Black said on the first day of the program, his group brought a 3-D printer to Mountaintop campus to limit inconveniences. However, his group still used STEPS and Fritz Lab for its project.

Leaser said his group traveled back and forth to Mountaintop campus and had to rely on the bus system to use the woodshop in Chandler-Ullmann.

“Throughout the course of the week, individually we might have spent about three hours going back and forth between campuses,” Lester said. “We made it work, but there wasn’t the convenience of walking to the wood shop (in Building C).”

When renovation to Chandler-Ullmann starts in fall 2018, the art, architecture and design program will be permanently moved to Building C. This means students working on Mountaintop projects will have access to the new wood shops and 3-D printers in the space.

“The idea is to have some types of Mountaintop pieces or architecture studios a bit more integrated,” Stringfellow said.

Slight renovations were also made in Iacocca Hall, specifically in the Wood Dining Room and the Stabler Observation Tower for the Iacocca Conference Center.

Stringfellow said a sit-down dining area was added to the Wood Dining Room and new carpet, paint, window shades and updated technology were installed in both spaces.

“We are bringing (the rooms) up to date,” he said. “However, we aren’t changing their function.”

Stringfellow said this project is funded by Conference Services and Special Housing Services. The Iacocca Conference Center construction is expected to be completed in October.

All summer construction is part of the 10-year Path to Prominence plan to renovate and upgrade buildings on Mountaintop and Asa Packer campuses.

“These are spaces you can come together to create new things,” said Khanjan Mehta, the vice provost for creative inquiry and director of Lehigh’s Mountaintop Initiative. “This (project) ties into the bigger things we are doing at Lehigh in the next year. Mountaintop is about the ethos, not the physical space. There were minor inconveniences that we dealt with this summer, but once complete in December the space will be gorgeous.”

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