Xuening Hu, '17, explores the options at Mein Bowl in Upper Cort on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 6, 2016. Upper Cort was renovated over the summer and Mein Bowl provides an updated Asian option for students. (Vincent Liu/B&W Staff)

Summer renovations offer preview of future campus upgrades

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Several dining halls, on-campus residences and campus buildings received upgrades this summer between May and August, said Brent Stringfellow, Lehigh’s university architect.

The renovation of existing buildings is part of a larger effort to continually update Lehigh’s campus and ensure university-wide consistency. The changes that were made this summer, such as upgrades of dining halls, residence halls and study rooms, will provide a preview of projects yet to come.

Grace Lounge in the UC underwent a major change, receiving new furniture and a brighter aesthetic. Mein Bowl Asian Market in Upper Cort was also remodeled, adding space to the serving area and allowing for more menu options, said David Joseph, the executive director of Student Auxiliary Services.

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Students sit in the Upper Cort dining room on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 6, 2016. The room was renovated over the summer with a coat of paint, new chairs and tables, and booths. (Vincent Liu/B&W Staff)

Juliana Orejuela, ’19, said she likes the new furniture and has noticed an increase of students at Mein Bowl during lunch hour. Cole Mehr, ’18, however, said he has not noticed significant change.

“It’s more or less the same,” Mehr said. “(The renovation) does not seem like a drastic improvement.”

Upgrades were made to the grill and sandwich areas in Lower Cort dining hall, new signage and paint were added to Brodhead dining hall, and changes were made to the pizza and pasta stations in Rathbone dining hall, Joseph said.

“We are hoping for renovation in (Fairchild-Martindale Library) in the near future where we can build a bigger and better dining operation,” Joseph said.

Several residence halls and Greek houses were also renovated this summer. Renovations in Warren Square houses B, C and D include new flooring, bathroom and kitchen upgrades, and new furniture in bedrooms and lounges, according to an email from Katy Kresge, an associate director of Residential Services.

Several Greek houses also received new stoves and ranges, Kresge wrote in an email. Warren Square houses E and F, the Phi Delta Theta house and residence halls in Lower Cents received new roofing.

“In a housing system like ours, where we have buildings that are in some cases pushing 100 years old, it is important that we constantly evaluate their condition and continue to make improvements,” Kresge wrote in an email.

Lehigh spends nearly $1.5 million every year on projects throughout the residential system, which includes residence halls, fraternities and sororities, Kresge wrote.

In addition to the renovations made to dining areas and residence halls, Lehigh has also upgraded classrooms in Rauch Business Center, Drown Hall, Iacocca Hall and Whitaker Lab, Stringfellow said. Other renovations included a new brick façade on Taylor Gym, masonry restoration on Mohler Lab and a new stairway leading from Whitaker Lab to the FML courtyard.

Stringfellow said new electrical supplies, which will make power more consistent, were installed in fraternity and sorority houses. Also, new swipe card readers were installed in Warren Square, House 104, several Trembley apartments and in Lower Cents.

“The changes can be little things, but they start to show the message that we’re trying to carry a consistent idea across campus,” Stringfellow said. “My job is to make sure that everything is done in a coherent and consistent fashion, and done in a way that the physical fabric of the campus embodies the values of Lehigh as a university.”

Packer Memorial Church is under renovation and will be completed in 2018, Stringfellow said. Upgrades will be made to the roof, masonry and windows.

“Packer Church is one of our flagship buildings and we want to do it well,” said Yasmin Bugaighis, the director of facilities projects management.

The fifth floor of FML underwent a major renovation, which created more open study areas and breakout rooms, Bugaighis said.

“(The study space is) unrecognizable, but I like it,” said Deepshikha Das, ’18. “A lot of student groups seem to be interested in the space.”

FML will be subject to new renovations in the future, Stringfellow said. Lehigh has completed feasibility studies, or assessments of proposed projects, for buildings like FML, Chandler-Ullmann and Christmas-Saucon. A feasibility study for the UC is underway.

“The change in the library is dramatic,” Bugaighis said. “It’s sort of giving you a hint as to what may come if we continue with the feasibility study and actually implement it for (FML).”

Stringfellow said he will sit down this fall with faculty, administrators and students to talk about what projects to implement next summer.

Residential Services and Facilities Services will also meet within the next few weeks to discuss projects they will be undertaking in the summer of 2017, Kresge wrote.

Stringfellow said there is still a high level of care for the smaller renovations even when dramatic changes are not taking place on campus.

“One of the best assets of Lehigh is in fact its physical campus — its landscape and its buildings,” Stringfellow said. “We take it pretty seriously to maintain that level of quality.”

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