Ballinger conducted a comprehensive feasibility study for Lehigh University to assess the existing conditions of Packard Lab, understand program requirements, and develop a conceptual plan for renovations.
Since its completion in 1929, Packard Lab has been at the center of engineering education at Lehigh University and has stood as a cornerstone of the historic campus core. With its historic character, robust masonry envelope, and “good bones,” Packard Lab has significant retained value; however, the current interior spaces cannot accommodate pedagogical trends towards experiential, active learning and expanded capstone design programs. In addition, Packard Lab requires a complete replacement of its building systems to provide a safe, healthy and energy efficient learning environment for students and faculty.
Ballinger worked closely with the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (RCEAS) and the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering departments to assess needs and develop a proposed program, block and stack. The result is a conceptual plan for renovations to serve the needs of the College into the future.
Ballinger’s recommendation to meet Lehigh’s goals of visibility, connectivity and placemaking is to transform an inaccessible light court at the center of the building into a dynamic, skylit, multilevel commons that will literally and figuratively become the new heart of the building. Connected to campus at three different levels, the commons will draw activity to the core of Packard Lab while also providing new ways to move through the building that unlock opportunities for large format experiential learning labs at the perimeter. A glassy new entrance to the east and a series of new openings to the north connect the building to campus and will serve as beacons along Packer Avenue and the primary north-south pedestrian walk.
With specific recommendations addressing the commons, learning spaces and offices, the study prepares Lehigh University to thoughtfully plan and implement the renovation of Packard Lab.