The Warren Square complex, which is comprised of five houses and is located across from the Alumni Memorial Building, houses dozens of upperclassmen students. However, many of the residence facilities within the complex come with disrepairs that make parts of them unusable and inhabitable.
The complex is home to a number of Live Lehigh communities, including Greengineering, Live.Learn.Serve, Coding the Future, Music Appreciation, Outdoor Adventure and Christian Live Lehigh.
“It’s very lovely to live here,” said Eugene Vivino, ’16, a resident of Warren Square A and a member of the Greengineering community. “It’s a delightful community.”
Many residents of Warren Square expressed this same sentiment, however, several feel as if Warren Square holds untapped potential that Lehigh is overlooking.
The restricted third floors of Warren Square houses A, B and D, are currently not used or habitable. The basements of Warren Square B and Warren Square D are also not utilized.
“The basement is literally rubble and concrete,” said Kristen Mejia, ’17, the Gryphon in Warren Square D.
Lauren Sleator, ’16, another member of the Greengineering community and resident of Warren Square A, expressed similar feelings about her residence hall.
“The house is not in very great working condition,” she said. “It is a disaster on the third floor, but it is kept locked for a reason.”
Connor Burbridge, ’17, the Gryphon in Warren Square A, said that the facility has a lot of unused space that could be useful to their communities.
He expressed that it would be expensive to repair all the damage and that the university had already spent a lot of money providing his house with a greenhouse. This greenhouse allows the residents of Warren Square A to grow plants year-round.
“They do spend money, but not on the dormitory part,” Burbridge said.
Burbridge added that maintenance does fix problems that arise in the house. However, Lehigh has not agreed to repair the third floor.
According to Vivino, maintenance will occasionally come to check on the third floor of Warren Square A.
Ozzie Breiner, the director of residential services, said that the houses of Warren Square “are inspected by the city on a yearly basis. They are as safe as any other residence facility on our campus.”
Unlike some of the other Warren Square houses, Warren Square F, home to the Christian Live Lehigh community, has both a usable third floor and basement.
“Warren Square D is definitely the worst house in Warren Square,” Mejia said. “The difference between Warren Square F and Warren Square D is crazy. They are on completely different levels.”
In addition to its restricted third floor and unusable basement, Warren Square D, home to the Outdoor Adventure community, has a very unusual layout. Mejia explained that this makes it difficult to create a better community because the facility plays a large role in building the community.
“It’s upsetting,” Mejia said. “There’s so much that they can do to the house, but they just don’t do it. In reality, they can do so much better.”
Burbridge also talked about the importance of community in his house.
“As a community, we have done a good job at making it feel like a home,” he said. “But communities fluctuate, and this may be the reason why they don’t upgrade some of the houses.”
Burbridge said the condition of the house impacts the community’s ability to recruit other students to live in the house in future years.
Many of the houses in Warren Square are known to be very old, and therefore, a great amount of upkeep is required to keep the living spaces maintained.
“We care to maintain it more than they do,” Vivino said. “We planted flowers, put mulch down and paid out of our own budget.”
The Warren Square complex sits on the fringe of Lehigh’s campus and the houses may not be easily visible to visitors. Burbridge believes that this invisibility and the lack of constant flow in the Live Lehigh communities both contribute to the problem as to why some of these buildings have not been renovated or retrofitted.
“Lehigh should maximize their hidden resources and create wonderful places out of these unused spaces,” said Vivino.