Lehigh University in Bethlehem hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday to mark the start of construction on Bridge West Residence Hall, a 720-bed residential community.
The first part of the construction project should be complete for the fall 2020 semester, said Brent Stringfellow, associate vice president of facilities at Lehigh University and university architect.
The building will house more than 400 undergraduate students and include a café, fitness area, kitchenettes, lounge areas and conference rooms, he said.
The university is planning to begin the second part of construction in summer 2020, though the university did not confirm that yet, Stringfellow said.
Bridge West will add to the number of students on campus and provide a wider range of living options for them as well as more social spaces to support campus life, he said.
“It’s a modern building in terms of amenities,” Stringfellow said. “We want to have more facilities but also meet the expectations and needs of students today.”
A majority of the residence halls on Lehigh’s campus are from a different era, Stringfellow said.
The project, expected to cost about $75 million, will go up on the Packer campus at Sayre and University drives. The first part of the multi-story project involves building on an existing parking lot.
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.
Whiting-Turner, which has a Bethlehem office, is building the project. Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass., designed the project.
The project overall is part of a multi-year infrastructure and building plan 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.