A new class of students was not the only thing different about campus when students and faculty returned to South Bethlehem at the start of the fall semester. Throughout campus, Lehigh is making internal and structural changes with construction and renovations on its Path to Prominence plan. These changes affect academic buildings, dorms and more.
Bridge West Dorm
Located next to Taylor College, the new Bridge West dorm will be home to the additional students Lehigh expects as it continues to increase class sizes. The project is targeting completion by next summer, with plans to be ready for residents next fall, University Architect Brent Stringfellow said.
All steel construction was completed during the summer.
Stringfellow said the structure will start to look like a real building soon, since the next step is to add brick to the skeleton of the building.
If the exterior is completed on schedule, construction during the winter months will focus on the building’s interior. The Trembley Park dorms will be demolished once the Bridge West Dorm is completed.
“Even taking Trembley offline will provide an additional 200 beds of capacity on campus,” Stringfellow said. “I think that addresses some of the concerns that people had about it coming down this past summer.”
Chandler-Ullmann’s entire renovation is complete, and the academic building has been reopened and is ready for students and faculty.
“All of the building’s systems were renovated, so now it has all modern HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), elevators and updated bathrooms,” Stringfellow said.
Originally a chemistry building, Chandler-Ullmann is now home to the psychology and math departments, filled with classrooms and administrative space.
College of Health
“We’ve been digging a hole. Digging, digging, digging,” Stringfellow said.
He said the College of Health building is on track to be completed in 2021, and is currently in the early stages of development. Students can expect to see more visible progress in the spring semester, when the framework of the building will begin.
While the tower project is wrapping up in the fall, there will be no further disruption on the University Center during the semester.
The University will spend time seeking feedback about dining on campus and the University Center’s role in student life to improve options and variety around campus.
Cafe @ FML
The small cafe previously in the lower level of Fairchild-Martindale Library has been replaced with a larger, more expansive cafe across from the Digital Media Studio. This cafe aims to provide a greater variety of food.
Breakfast sandwiches, signature sandwiches, grain and noodle salads, soup, baked goods, coffee and smoothies are featured on the menu.
The seating area provides a collaborative study space, with windows instead of walls, Stringfellow said.
This project began and was completed over the summer, allowing students to utilize the cafe for the entirety of the semester.
The hours remain the same: Monday-Wednesday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. and closed on Saturday.
SouthSide Commons provides an alternative option to traditional off-campus houses surrounding Lehigh’s campus. In addition to apartment spaces, Southside provides a gym, study spaces and community areas.
“It gives you the perks of on-campus living in a totally independent environment,” Stringfellow said.
Alex Mow, ‘21, a SouthSide community assistant, said that while residents have definitely noticed a few quirks with the building, feedback has been mainly positive.
“Move-in was really convenient, though the elevator did break down a few times,” Katelyn Grimes, ’20, said. “But every time it’s broken, it has been fixed within a few hours.”
The housing complex offers pet-friendly and fully-furnished studio apartments and two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. All utilities are included, and residents can enjoy the convenience of elevators.
While Stringfellow recognizes that construction can be loud and disruptive, he said the hope is that it provides a better overall campus environment, as the changes aim to serve the student body as a whole and provide more resources to students.
“Events like SouthSide barbecues, s’mores nights, tie-dye events and trail mix bars help foster a sense of community in the building,” Mow said.