Rauch Business Center to expand under Path to Prominence

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Lehigh’s Path to Prominence plans have begun around campus, as evidence of the initiative has spread to Rauch Business Center.

Lehigh selected Voith & Mactavish Architects to create a concept design of Rauch and a new facility to accompany the business school.

Designed by Anna Simoneau

Estimates for the new facilities show the cost will range somewhere between $25-26 million. These numbers are subject to change depending on what Lehigh decides to do with the expansion.

Voith & Mactavish were one of 14 potential candidates for the Path to Prominence renovations. Lehigh narrowed the 14 down to five firms, who then pitched their ideas to Lehigh faculty.

Voith & Mactavish designed Drexel University’s new LeBow Business Center, which cost approximately $75 million. They also renovated the University of Pennsylvania’s business and law schools for $3 million and $13 million, respectively.

“I want this building to be beautiful,” said Georgette Phillips, the dean of the College of Business and Economics. “I want people to walk into this building and say this is a first-class business school.”

Voith & Mactavish will present the first concept designs to Lehigh sometime before the end of June.

The Path to Prominence does not currently have an official release date for the design. Because of the ambiguity of how long it will take to raise funds and when the construction will actually start, Phillips said an estimated completion date cannot be made currently.

Phillips said the next stage of development will begin in the near future with the architects arriving on campus. Phillips said the architects want student input to create a facility that better meets the needs of Lehigh’s student body.

“We want the students to start thinking about what they like, what are some things that we can do differently, what are some things that we are not really doing and what are some things that we cannot lose,” Phillips said.

Phillips said she is not sure how the business school will receive suggestions from students, but the faculty will notify students once it starts accepting suggestions.

Suggestions can range from the smallest additions, such as coat hooks in classrooms, to larger additions, such as creating new study spaces.

The location of the new building is unknown, but it will most likely be either an extension of Rauch or across the street from Rauch in the service parking lot.

“Rauch was built 30-plus years ago,” economics professor Robert Thornton said, “and a lot has changed since then.”

Phillips said a major reason why Lehigh decided to expand Rauch is because the building is running out of space. He said the business school has a growing need to expand its faculty, but there is no room for faculty offices. The school is struggling to find space for its programmatic offices, as well as its undergraduate and graduate divisions.

“It will definitely give us offices for faculty,” said Jeanne Monnot, an academic coordinator in the finance department. “It will also help in the scheduling of classes because we are really tight for class size (at Rauch).”

Thornton said he was given a classroom in Drown Hall one year because all the classrooms in Rauch were filled. He said overall things can be really cramped.

He said there is not a sufficient variety of classroom sizes. In his experience, there is a lack of small seminar rooms.

Phillips said there are also structural issues with Rauch under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In particular, the building needs to provide easy accessibility for people with disabilities.

Rauch’s lack of a main entrance is an issue that Lehigh aims to resolve. Consolidating all doorways into one main entrance will allow Rauch to stay open later on weeknights and be open more on weekends. A single entrance will help with any security issues the building may have.

Phillips said the renovations will also create more room for events that currently take place in Rauch lobby.

“Holding events here at Rauch will be easier,” Monnot said, “because right now we are limited with the space we have.”

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