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An existing housing site is transformed into a connective complex that manipulates the topography to allow stronger pedestrian connections and new outdoor program spaces

Lehigh University Bridge West Student Housing

Client
Lehigh University
Location
Bethlehem, PA
Size
245,000 SF
Services
Architecture
Additional Services
Landscape Architecture
Interior Design
Status
Under construction

Lehigh University engaged Sasaki to undertake an evaluation of existing residential life facilities and identify future opportunities for enhancement and growth. One of the priorities emerging from this study was the definition of a student life vision that built stronger communities and connections among students, faculty, and staff along with identifying key sites to accommodate future enrollment growth.

The design for the Bridge West neighborhood is a key component of this vision. Following the recommendations of the planning study, the proposal contributes to the creation of a strong network of student life neighborhoods surrounding the academic core of campus. The 720-bed complex provides for anticipated residential growth and a cohesive strategy for open spaces while respecting the historic campus character and steep topographic conditions.

Given the location along the seam between core residential and academic areas, thoughtful site circulation strengthens the pedestrian experience with improved pathways and accessibility along a central spine through the neighborhood. Dynamic spaces provide connections to and through the surrounding landscape and increase the visibility of student life within. Common circulation will serve the entire campus and help to foster a sense of shared community. Key programs, including classroom, fitness, cafe, and multi-purpose spaces are aligned along the spine and integrate with the surrounding outdoor spaces.

Reflecting Lehigh’s impressive history as a leader in science and engineering, environmental stewardship, and sustainability are key components of the neighborhood. Specific strategies proposed include an integrated suite of stormwater management components, energy-efficient building systems, and a solar hot-water demonstration system.

To connect the upper side of campus to lower campus, the residential buildings needed to traverse 60 feet in elevation. To compensate for this inherent premium, our team focused on efficiencies in programmatic arrangements and building materials and systems. Cost controls were monitored through extensive coordination with site experts, utility consultants, structural engineers, and construction feasibility consultants. The final design successfully reconnects the residential experience to the broader heart of campus with a sustainable and contemporary living environment.

Implementation

The new Bridge West housing clusters are currently under construction — with the South cluster finishing up this Fall and the North cluster slated for completion in early 2021.

For more information contact Vinicius Gorgati.

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