Rendering of Lehigh University's HST Building

Health, Science and Technology Building Takes Shape

Lehigh’s new HST Building will open in Fall 2021.

Story by

Kelly Hochbein

As more members of the Lehigh community return to campus throughout the summer and at the start of the fall semester, they’ll notice a significant change at the corner of Morton and Webster streets.

A former parking lot has given rise to the 195,000-square-foot Health, Science, and Technology (HST) Building, a facility that, once complete, will be a “research sandbox,” says Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Nathan Urban.    

“HST by its very nature from day one will bring people together from across Lehigh—different colleges, different departments, different fields that are traditionally more siloed all in one place,” says Urban. “Today’s research questions and problems often don’t respect disciplinary boundaries. They require people from different fields to bring their expertise to bear. HST invites that kind of collaboration.” 

In addition to serving as home to the College of Health, HST initially will offer flexible space for faculty from a variety of disciplines focusing on research in biohealth and energy to interact and collaborate.  

“HST will be the most capable building on campus in the kinds of experiments and research that it will support. It also pushes the envelope because of the way the building is designed and the environment and culture it will create,” says Urban. “The building will foster cross talk between experimentalists and computational and quantitative researchers constructing models and conducting data analysis and visualization. We expect the interplay between those areas will catalyze innovative and creative research.”    

The sustainably designed building is scheduled to open in late Fall 2021.

In One Space

The university broke ground on the HST Building in October 2019. It will be the largest building on the Asa Packer campus, initially containing 36,000 square feet of lab and lab support space. The digital signatures of more than 4,000 members of the Lehigh community adorn multiple steel beams that frame the state-of-the-art facility.

HST is in close proximity to the existing research cluster made up of Seeley-Mudd, Sinclair, and Whitaker Labs, connected by a pedestrian bridge over Asa Drive to the courtyard serving all three buildings. The large open-concept floor plan and shared wet, damp and dry labs will allow faculty and student researchers to collaborate. 

Rendering of Lehigh University's HST Building

The building will also serve as a gateway to Bethlehem’s South Side. It will be the first academic building on Lehigh’s campus with front doors facing the community, where the entries open onto Morton Street at both Webster and Adams streets. Meeting spaces will invite members of the Lehigh and Bethlehem communities to gather and also welcome local residents to participate in health and wellness programs or community-based research. The building’s design encourages transparency and facilitates interactions between individuals across disciplines. 

Rendering of Lehigh University's HST Building

“The faculty with labs in HST will comprise a local community of researchers who are highly diverse in terms of the fields they represent and the approach that they take to their research,” Urban explains. “The building will also house facilities and spaces that will be available to faculty and students from across campus—further fostering collaborative and impactful research.” 

Existing connections and collaborations between faculty moving into HST and those who will remain in their current campus spaces will continue, and will be strengthened by the convening capabilities and open design in HST, as well as by its core facilities. 

Rendering of open lab in Lehigh University's HST Building

Among HST’s key spaces is the Core Data Visualization (Viz) Lab, a shared space on the basement level that will include two research labs and a research commons. This lab will provide researchers with the ability to access, analyze and visualize massive amounts of data. Researchers will also be able to utilize the lab’s virtual and augmented reality capabilities. Lehigh’s world-class electron microscopy and surface characterization tools will also be located on the basement level.   

The floor above includes open lab space, student desks, faculty offices and small group meeting spaces. Another level up, a dean’s suite surrounded by collaborative spaces will anchor the College of Health. Plans for this floor also include a data warehouse and another data visualization lab. In addition, a forum with tall ceilings and moveable walls will allow for larger gatherings, lectures, receptions and other events. A cafe provides an opportunity for informal gathering and interaction. Outdoors, members of the community will be able to gather in a shaded patio area adjacent to the cafe. Level two will feature two large conference rooms and a small terrace, as well as more open lab space, graduate student desking and faculty offices.

Rendering of office in Lehigh University's HST Building

“We are excited to launch a more interactive research environment in HST this fall, to quickly establish best practice within this new context, and to then rapidly add new research efforts on the upper floors based on what we learn along the way,” says Urban. “One major advantage of HST’s design is that it provides us with room to grow at a rapid pace.”   

Progress on the HST building can be viewed on this livestream.

Rendering of forum in Lehigh University's HST Building
Story by

Kelly Hochbein

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