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Lehigh's latest investment in expansion plan offers more than 700 student beds

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This rendering by Sasaki Associates shows Lehigh University of Bethlehem's new Bridge West project, a building plan that would bring 720 beds to campus.
(Submitted) This rendering by Sasaki Associates shows Lehigh University of Bethlehem's new Bridge West project, a building plan that would bring 720 beds to campus.

Lehigh University in Bethlehem said it would start construction this winter on a residence hall project that would help increase its student population.

The project, Bridge West, is part of the university’s Path to Prominence initiative announced several years ago.

It consists of a multi-year plan with infrastructure and building projects designed to create more student living spaces on campus, expand the university’s footprint, and increase its academic and research opportunities.

Over the next decade, the university plans to increase its undergraduate population by 1,000 students, or roughly 20 percent, while increasing its graduate student population by 500. The expansion will also bring 100 new faculty members to the campus, according to the university.

Bridge West will have 720 beds, and the project will be divided into two phases, said Lori Friedman, spokeswoman for Lehigh University.

The first part, on the south lot, will have 142,000 gross square feet and 405 beds, while the second part, on the north lot, will have 112,000 gross square feet and 315 beds.

The first phase will also include a café and fitness area, as well as an exterior gathering space. The second includes a larger gathering space for student events, presentations and performances, Friedman said.

The start for construction on the second phase has not been determined yet, said Brent Stringfellow, associate vice president of facilities and university architect for Lehigh University.

The project will go up on the Packer campus at Sayre and University drives, he said. The university will demolish the existing Trembley Park, a group of residence halls built in 1974, to build the second phase portion of Bridge West, Stringfellow said.

The first part of the project involves building on an existing parking lot, he added.

Whiting-Turner, which has a Bethlehem office, is building the project. Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass., designed the project.

Stringfellow did not disclose the construction cost.

The Bethlehem Planning Commission approved the project Thursday night, he said.

As part of the Path to Prominence initiative, the university started construction in May on Southside Commons. That $48 million project is going up on a vacant university-owned parking lot at the corner of Brodhead and West Packer avenues and will provide housing for more than 400 students. Construction should be complete in summer 2019.

In addition, the university recently moved offices to the Gateway at Greenway Park building on Third and New streets and plans to build a new College of Health building as part of this initiative.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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