Project File: Community design

June 1, 2003
Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa.

Muhlenberg College, a small liberal-arts college, has a landlocked campus that limits where new buildings can be placed. With 95 percent of its students living on campus, it needed additional student residences, especially for juniors and seniors. Through a creative land swap with the city of Allentown, Pa., a new site opened up on the campus — 3½ acres of property on a challenging sloped site near the southwest entrance to the campus.

The main objective for the two new residence halls was to make them attractive to junior and senior students who are prone to seek housing off campus; the buildings had to ensure a sense of privacy and comfort, but also encourage a spirit of community. To create an ideal college residential community, the administration and the architect decided on 32 to 36 students for each “house.” There are two separate four-story buildings, each containing two stacked “houses” and “communities.” Each house has a separate entrance and two floors of bedroom suites. The suites contain a shared sitting room, kitchenette, bathroom and four single bedrooms. Dramatic, light-filled community spaces at the end of the buildings have two-story window-walls that provide striking views of the Lehigh Valley hills. An internal stairway in the community rooms connects the two floors of bedroom suites in each house. The interior spaces of the community rooms are informal and contain a kitchen, large TV-monitor, modular furniture and Internet outlets. These rooms are used for movies, parties, group meetings and informal lounging.

Architect is Ewing Cole Cherry Brott (Philadelphia).

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