Jennifer Liu, '17, and Ben Vanschaayk, '16, work on the redesigning of Chandler-Ullman Hall on Monday, March 7, 2016. Several architecture students are part of the redesign team, which is supervised by professor Christine Ussler. (Mariangelica Vargas/B&W Photo)

Chandler-Ullmann to be renovated with help of students


Plans have been made to redesign and renovate Chandler-Ullmann Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus. Students who occupy the building for architecture classes will have a hand in the renovations.

Lehigh hired MGA Partners Architects to perform a feasibility study of the renovation of Chandler-Ullmann and Christmas-Saucon. Members of the architecture department thought students needed to be involved in the design process.

Although this isn’t the first year Christine Ussler assigned the redesign of the building as a project, it is the first year the building will undergo the renovation. The 11 students in Architecture Design III will create their own design solutions.

Ussler said the historic building has not been renovated since the 1960s and changes were long overdue.

This is the second of three projects the students will complete during the semester. The architectural firm will be visiting the studio to examine the students’ solutions and continue the extensive planning.

Ussler has specialized in historic building renovation and adaptive reuse of buildings for over 25 years. As a Lehigh graduate and a long-time resident of Bethlehem, Ussler has earned a name for historical consulting in the area.

“From age 9 on, I had a hammer in my pocket,” Ussler said.

Some students, like Jennifer Liu, ’17, have prior experience working with historical renovation. Liu worked for a firm over the summer that completely renovated the inside of an historical building, which was a similar project to the one they are working on now. Through that experience, she was able to gain some insight of what the process is like.

Eli Hess, ’17, worked for a firm that created a school from an old warehouse.

“You can make a renovation that’s really different, or you can try to make it like it was,” Hess said. “The blend versus the contrast.”

Many of the design solutions have addition, but Ussler said these designs will not be possible because of funding constraints. Ussler also said the architecture, art and design department as well as the psychology department, which is also housed in the building, would like more space than the building can accommodate.

Students had to consult with the psychology department to understand their needs for the building.

“I’d say a lot of the problems come in the organization and what we feel,” Todd Austin, ’16, said. “First of all, there’s only really bathrooms on the bottom floor, and most of our classroom aren’t there.”

Austin said the building organization does not cater to students needs. Students often carry their projects around the building to utilize different materials, machines and spaces.

“The way the building is organized, it’s really complex, and seems really random,” Austin said.

Hess said his goal is for everyone to be satisfied with their spaces, despite the illogical set up of the building. He said half of the building cannot be accessed without going outside and taking a different staircase.

Chandler-Ullmann is one of the oldest buildings on campus and was first built as Chandler Laboratory. The building is considered a national historic chemical landmark, according to the American Chemical Society. The building was first conceptualized in 1841 and underwent planning until 1906 by William Chandler, Lehigh’s then-president.

The building was then designed by architect Addison Hutton and completed in 1885. It cost $200,000 to build and set the bar for chemical laboratories for the next century.

Over the next 100 years, Chandler-Ullmann was renovated and remolded and to house classrooms and offices.

Ussler believes redesigning existing buildings is a green way to improve campus.

“You’re recycling buildings rather than just throwing them away,” Ussler said.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

Leave A Reply