The demolition of Lehigh’s Windish Hall is underway in preparation for the construction of what will become the new Lehigh University Police Department. After residing on the second floor of Johnson Hall for many years, the department plans to relocate to expand its services and create a safer environment closer to campus.
The former building, which was located across the street from Rauch Business Center, was originally owned by a fraternal organization. Though the building used to be a social hall for weddings and other events, it has been vacant since Lehigh purchased it five years ago.
Lehigh University’s Chief of Police Edward Shupp said the new police department’s central location will be very valuable to the university’s off-campus students.
“It’s a key location,” Shupp said. “Being right off campus makes it easier to be there.”
He believes the location of the new building will reduce response time and crime within the area. The department hopes this move will make it easier to access both on- and off-campus reports.
The new building, a 12,000-square-foot two-story building designed by Philadelphia-based architectural firm Atkins Olshin Schade Architects, will accommodate the growing police force at Lehigh.
“We’ve outgrown this area,” Shupp said.
Although plans for the demolition were set to begin in mid-July, the demolition didn’t begin until Aug. 17 and was expected to last three weeks.
Despite the improved safety procedures the new building will eventually provide students, those living near the construction site have said the demolition has been inconvenient.
Sarah Oxholm, ’16, lives on Van Buren Street directly behind the Windish Hall lot. She said the construction begins early in the morning and is very loud.
“Not only is the machinery loud, but the guys working are yelling at 7 a.m.,” Oxholm said. “Sometimes I feel like we’re living in it.”
She said she wonders why the demolition didn’t begin during the summer when most students are away from campus.
The construction of the new building is set to be completed this April.