The art, architecture and design department will relocate to Mountaintop campus this summer. Some students have voiced concerns about transportation issues that may arise from this move. (Sara Boyd/B&W Staff)

Art, architecture and design department prepares for move to Mountaintop


Lehigh’s art, architecture and design department will move to Mountaintop campus in July, before classes begin this fall.

Anna Chupa, a professor and chair of the art, architecture and design department, said there are about 67 majors and 60 minors in the department, with 12 to 20 students graduating each spring.

Chupa said for the last two years, the department had planned to move to Mountaintop while Chandler-Ullman, the department’s current home, was renovated. She said it was provost Patrick Farrell’s decision to make the move permanent.

“We are going to have more space, so that’s a plus,” she said. “The landscape that’s wide open to us up there, the opportunities for architecture and design students for design-build activities — to step right outside and be able to work is something we are excited about.”

Chupa said the department will have access to new “smart” classrooms and two Mac computer labs once it moves to Mountaintop.

Sophia Eschenbach-Smith, ’20, said she is concerned with transportation when her classes are no longer on Packer campus. 

“I don’t really think they consulted a ton of students and there’s definitely a lot that needs to be talked about,” she said. “All my classes would be at Mountaintop, and transportation would probably be the biggest issue they’re going to have. Architecture students may be in the studio until 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., and we need a way back down and a way to eat.”

A meeting for all art, architecture and design majors and minors is scheduled for Feb. 22 to discuss the Mountaintop move in greater detail.

The move will delay the department’s goal of receiving accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Chupa said she has also made it her personal goal to get the program accredited, which takes at least two years. According to the NASAD website, accreditation “signifies a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between the work of individual institutions and the work of the entire community of institutions that prepare artists and designers at the collegiate level.” 

Approximately 360 institutions are accredited by the NASAD. In order to receive accreditation, institutions must go through multiple phases, one of which involves a self-study, which is often referred to as the most important part of the process. Accredited institutions are typically reviewed every five to 10 years. Receiving accreditation means “investing in the stature and health of (the art and design) profession” and upholding membership standards.

Chupa said Lehigh’s program is robust enough to receive accreditation.

“Lehigh students are really strong in the interdisciplinary studies overall, and the university makes this very accessible, which is a real selling point for us,” she said. 

The department’s lack of accreditation has not deterred current students from studying art, architecture and design at Lehigh.

“It’s not a major issue,” Eschenbach-Smith said. “It would just be kind of nice to be accredited. (Art, architecture and design) needs to become a more recognized program, because it sometimes feels like there’s not a lot of importance around the architecture students.”

Liz Anderson, ’19, said she chose Lehigh for its architecture program.

“Lehigh has a solid pre-professional program that sends students to Ivy League graduate schools,” Anderson said. 

Chupa hopes the university will accept her department’s proposal to hire two new full-time professors to replace two professors who are no longer teaching in the program.

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