Campus Planning Open House - April 2024

Lehigh Community Members Meet with Campus Architects, Planners and Engineers

Experiential activities, interactive mapping, idea sharing were available to obtain community feedback for the campus

Changes to buildings, landscapes and campus connectivity are being considered for campus. Doing that in a way that creates a more sustainable and welcoming environment is vital. Having a solid campus plan in place that supports research growth, innovative pedagogy and community-building is key.

Keeping in line with Lehigh’s desire to create ways for community members to impact the university’s future direction, the April 18 Campus Planning Open House —attended by over 250 members of the community—had questions and concepts on display inviting community feedback. During the day-long event, guests were given a chance to speak one-on-one with campus architects, planners, and engineers; share ideas; and learn about the campus planning process as it aligns with the university’s Inspiring the Future Makers strategic plan. There were experiential activities, interactive mapping, idea sharing, and more ways to share thoughts.

“The strategic vision for Lehigh’s future has prompted the need for a new campus plan,” says Nancy Trainer, associate vice president for facilities and campus planning. “Our goal is to answer the question: how can Lehigh’s diverse collection of buildings and landscapes support the goals and initiatives of the strategic plan, while preserving the essential character of the place—what makes Lehigh, Lehigh? Today’s event gives us more information to include in our planning process from those who experience our campuses everyday.”

Interactive posterboard at Lehigh University's Campus Planning Open House

One integrated campus

In order to align Lehigh’s physical campus to meet the challenges of the university’s new strategic plan, focus is being placed on the University’s three main activity areas – the Asa Packer, Mountaintop, and Goodman campuses. These three campuses include more than 160 buildings and over 5 million square feet on about 1600 acres.

“Lehigh’s campus setting is vast and varied,” says Trainer. “Our neighbors include a revitalizing commercial district, urban and suburban residential neighborhoods, and forested nature conservancies. Our buildings encompass a wide range of types and ages, including historic, character-defining 19th century buildings, mid-century Modern structures, and buildings constructed within the past several years.”

Trainer also pointed out that the buildings range in size and scale as well – from small residential buildings (many converted to offices) to large laboratory buildings—and its landscapes are varied—including athletics fields, intimate courtyards and large swathes of forested mountainside.

“One of the overarching goals is to improve connectivity between the campus areas to reinforce the identity of Lehigh as a singular campus with an exceptional diversity of experiences,” says Trainer. “An integrated campus improves communication between people, facilitates collaboration and experimentation, and improves equity access to all of the campus resources for everyone in the community.”

Next steps

Over the next few months, information obtained from the event will be incorporated into planning options and concepts. For those who missed the in-person Open House, a digital version will be available soon to enable additional input. These options and concepts will be presented for feedback in the Fall.

“We want to thank everyone who came and participated in the open house,” says Trainer. “The best future is the one we make together.”

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