Plans to renovate Christmas-Saucon Hall, Lehigh’s oldest building, have begun as the university assesses the options for the reconstruction that will take place over the next few years.
The renovation is in the feasibility phase, which means the committee is assessing options and the pros and cons of the project, Yasmin Bugaighis, the director of campus planning and projects, wrote in an email.
Construction of Christmas-Saucon began in 1865 and was completed in 1872. The building began as separate structures which were then connected by the entryway. It was built as a church before Asa Packer purchased it it to use as the University Center. Christmas-Saucon is home to the department of mathematics, the University Press and assorted classrooms.
Bugaighis said the type of renovation is yet to be determined. Those working on the building are keeping sustainability in mind and debating if it will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificated, as STEPS is.
“Lehigh bears in mind sustainability in all its endeavors, whether that manifests in the form of LEED certification or not, is another issue,” Bugaighis wrote in an email. “LEED certification may or may not be achieved, or even applied for. The USGBC LEED certification is one of many measures of sustainability.”
Leah Nankof, ’19, took a statistics class in Christmas-Saucon last semester and believes the building needs to be renovated. She said the desks were worn out and uncomfortable.
“(It was) very difficult to focus because the floors creaked every time the professor walked, and the classrooms were always very hot and stuffy,” she said. “Other buildings like Drown Hall, Maginnes Hall and Coppee Hall have a much more pleasant atmosphere for learning.”
Nankof also said she thinks a renovation will improve the class environment in Christmas-Saucon.
“It is extremely hot, and I can’t focus in class, even in the winter when its 10 degrees outside,” Lindsay Ilgner, ’19, said.
Bugaighis said the specific renovations have yet to be determined, and they are following the guide set by the Lehigh master plan in 2012.
According to a summary of the Master Plan on Lehigh’s sustainability website, the guiding principles for renovation include plans to “build in an environmentally sustainable manner, and improve research space in a manner that enriches the holistic experience for graduate and undergraduate students.”
The university commitments tab on the Lehigh website explains the Master Plan is “a road map for the future of a campus, and a crucial took in confirming that short-term projects are working in conjunction with long-term plans and goals.”
In the Building Conditions Study map in the master plan, Christmas-Saucon is noted with “conditions suggest renovation.”
The Master Plan states, “carrying out the Plan will involve the continual assessment of priority projects, consideration of academic and student needs, improving and building infrastructure, and analysis of resources, opportunities, and constraints.”
Although renovations will modernize the building, many of the historical and architectural features will be preserved.