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Enhancing the student life experience by creating nodes of activity around residential buildings

Lehigh University Residential Life Master Plan

Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA
Planning and Urban Design
Additional Services
Completed 2016

Lehigh University worked with Sasaki to evaluate and improve the residential life experience for the university’s undergraduate and graduate students. The goal of the residential life master plan was to create a residential experience that encourages students to grow and develop holistically through a network of residential life spaces.

By leveraging infill development sites, new on-campus housing connects existing undergraduate residential buildings to each other and improves student access to amenities and support spaces. The site selection strategy also helped bridge topographic change and created accessible pathways between the fraternity and sorority houses “on the hill” and residence halls near the campus core for a more integrated undergraduate residential experience.

In addition to improving the residential life experience for students, the plan also sought to identify ways to increase on-campus residential capacity to support a period of strategic enrollment growth. A careful implementation strategy was required to simultaneously improve the quality of the residential experience for all students, accommodate additional residents, and allow significant other campus capital projects to proceed. The plan includes a phasing strategy that balances new construction with targeted renovations of existing buildings. Early phases of implementation support the first wave of enrollment growth and enable renovations to existing housing to create parity within the residential life experience. Later phases support additional enrollment growth and an increase in on-campus housing rates. Implementation strategies also identified sites suitable for alternative development approaches; working with real estate developers to develop student housing on peripheral campus properties enabled the university to meaningfully increase the number of available student beds on campus while also investing in major student life and academic spaces on campus.


The new Bridge West Student Housing neighborhood at Lehigh University is currently under construction. This new residential community is a realization of the first phase of the master plan and will create a strong network of student life neighborhoods surrounding the academic core of campus.

For more information contact Caitlyn Clauson.

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