Lehigh Facilities are working to expand the beauty of campus, while maintaining the iconic architecture of the historic buildings.
New buildings have been completed within the past year, including SouthSide Commons and the renovation of Chandler-Ullmann. Within the next few years, the College of Business expansion and the College of Health building will both be completed. The first phase of the new residential housing — Singleton, Hitch and Maida — will be finished this fall, with the second phase — the demolition of current Trembley Park houses, to be completed in 2022 or later.
Katelyn McNamara, ‘22, is studying architecture and said she is interested in the construction of the new buildings. She said one of the reasons she chose to attend Lehigh was because of the iconic buildings.
“I do feel like the old buildings mean more to Lehigh’s campus than the new ones,” McNamara said. “The ones that stand out are the University Center and Packard Lab, since they are historic and add to the university’s character.”
Although there are a mix of opinions on the design of some of these new buildings, University Architect Brent Stringfellow said he believes he is meeting the university’s future vision.
He said Lehigh doesn’t have a particular style to their buildings, and the evolution will be a representation of modern architecture. He said schools like Dickinson College and the University of Virginia have a clear style, and that Lehigh has a lot of great buildings that vary in different types of gothic styles.
“We look into trying to balance the legacy of Lehigh’s rich architecture, with buildings that are of their time and functioning to best fulfill the goals of the university,” Stringfellow said.
The styles at Lehigh have typified their era of when they were constructed and can understand when the buildings were built by looking at the outside design, Stringfellow said.
Chandler-Ullmann recently finished its renovation, but parts of the interior have remained unchanged since it was built in 1884. The windows and canopies at the entry were renovated, and new classrooms and offices that “reflect the needs of a contemporary academic building” were created, Stringfellow said.
He said Lehigh Facilities are investing money into the construction and renovation of these new buildings, and are looking at these buildings as a way to organize campus.
The University Center, which many consider to be the heart of campus, will be undergoing a significant renovation, but many of the old aspects of the building won’t be changed or restored. The historic parts of the building will be renovated, but will provide new spaces that are more modern, which will support student life, Stringfellow said.
McNamara said she doesn’t want to see the old buildings change, particularly the University Center, since she believes most people at Lehigh appreciate it for what it looks like now.
Ben Diflo, ‘22, is also in the architecture program and said the differences in architecture between the old and new buildings affects how he lives his life on campus.
“I like that a lot of the buildings have been more modern, like SouthSide Commons and Building C at Mountaintop,” Diflo said. “It feels like there are more open spaces, there’s bigger windows, the overall design is more sleek, and there’s not as much ornamentation. I think it separates the old buildings and new buildings, which I think is pretty cool.”
Stringfellow said he hopes these new buildings will form more “coherence” and “connectivity” on and off campus, and that they will bring a positive contribution to the rest of campus for years to come.
“It’s hard to have a building that everyone will entirely love and admire,” Stringfellow said. “Every time we construct new buildings, there’s always going to be varying opinions about the architecture of the building. Everyone will have their own personal opinions, but I think overall, the new buildings will have a positive impact on the rest of campus.”