Lehigh’s new Health, Science & Technology building – which will house the College of Health – is planning to open this fall.
Lehigh Architect Brent Stringfellow said he expects the building to open up for faculty and furniture to be moved in sometime in mid-November.
“It is a very dynamic building with lots of open and connecting spaces,” Stringfellow said. “I am also excited to see how people will react when they go inside. It is a radically different building than any of our other academic buildings.”
The open spaces are intended to build inclusivity and collaboration amongst students, faculty and the entire community.
Stringfellow said one of the main goals for the building is to establish a center for interdisciplinary research.
“Recognizing that we needed to provide more modern research facilities, but also the type of facilities that can support more interdisciplinary work,” he said. “We have open lab concepts that encourage interaction and visibility between different researchers.”
The second goal for the building is to house the College of Health. Stringfellow said most of their faculty will be placed in the building initially.
“In the College of Health, we are especially excited about the Community Health room, which is a beautiful space in which we will hold community events and meet with Bethlehem residents to conduct community-based participatory research in health,” said Beth Dolan, interim dean for the College of Health.
Since the College of Health opened in a mostly remote setting last year, the opening of the building acts as a more formal opening for the entire college itself, Dolan said.
“It feels like the opening of the College of Health 2.0 because faculty and students can be in person together this year compared to a remote opening,” Dolan said.
While the building does not officially open until later in the semester, the new College of Health curriculum launched this fall.
Another pivotal goal was the role this building will play for the entire South Bethlehem community.
“This is a gateway building,” Stringfellow said. “It’s at the Northern edge of our campus. It’s in an area of campus that Lehigh never opened out to the community before but we saw this as an opportunity to do that and serve a number of roles.”
Since the building is located at the bottom of Lehigh’s campus, it serves to announce that you have arrived at Lehigh. It is clearly marked, and Stringfellow said it is the first building opening out rather than staged inward toward the school.
Lehigh buildings typically have silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifications from The U.S. Green Building Council, which rank their green building strategies, but the Health, Science & Technology building will surpass that.
Stringfellow said it will likely achieve the LEED gold certification. The project is also participating in the Fitwel program, ranking the ongoing wellness of a building by prompting questions such as, “does this space encourage healthy habits?”
“The building itself is really trying to be a model of healthy productive work and I am excited that we will have this advanced new lab building on campus,” Stringfellow said.
Sakshi Acharya, ‘22, was a summer intern for Turner Construction, the company responsible for building the Health, Science & Technology building.
Acharya is excited to return to the building after working there this summer.
“It is cool to think back about how I was on the site before the construction was completed. I can say I was in a room before a wall was put up or knowing what the space looked like before the construction,” Acharya said.
The building brings new opportunities for connections and to expand Lehigh’s reach.
“The HST building will help activate that portion of campus that always felt like the campus was starting to dissipate since there was a parking lot there prior,” Stringfellow said. “We tried to embody that idea of wanting to build connections manifested in the architecture in terms of creating these views, and increasing the chances of people bumping into each other and seeing what is happening in the building.”