At the historic center of Lehigh University’s campus, Chandler Ullmann Hall stands out with iconic red brick chimneys that identify it as one of the first collegiate chemistry buildings in the country, unique for its innovations in ventilation and safety.
Project Name: Chandler Ullmann Hall, Lehigh University
Studio Name: MGA Partners
Project size: 88500 ft2
Site size: 88500 ft2
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 4
Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States
Photography: Halkin Mason Photography
The original T-shaped building, designed by Addison Hutton, opened in 1883 with later additions for a West Wing in 1919 and an East Wing in 1937. While continually occupied by academic departments for over a century, during the past several decades it became tired, ineffective, and unloved. The entire building is being renovated and selectively restored for new use as the home of the Department of Psychology and the Department of Math, both popular undergraduate programs requiring classrooms, faculty offices, and labs.
Reviving the durable but rather inflexible masonry building presented several essential challenges. Originally built with little infrastructure, Chandler Ullmann Hall had endured over a century of accretive layers of ductwork, wiring, devices, and lighting—all of which had lost its usefulness.
Unlike a contemporary building with chases and service zones, new infrastructure pathways are carefully introduced into the renovation so that the character of existing masonry walls and original ceilings are compromised to the least extent possible. While the program called for a large number of faculty offices, many key spatial features of the original building were honored by improving circulation patterns, by re-establishing relationships to the grand windows, and by planning large activity spaces such as classrooms in key locations.