By spring 2008 there will be two new buildings on campus-that is, if plans fall into place the way the university hopes they will. Eastern has run into opposition during the planning stages from numerous sources.
The proposed new additions, which would be located at the corner of King of Prussia and Eagle Roads, will be a dormitory that houses approximately 160 students and a graduate studies academic building.
The new residence hall will be built almost directly across from NCH, on the opposite side of Thomas Drive. It will serve as an instrument in cutting down the commuter population at Eastern.
“Eastern has always been a residential college, and that’s based on the philosophy that students between the ages of 17 and 22 significantly grow when they’re living in a community,” said Bettie Ann Brigham, the vice president for student development.
The residence hall will be similar to NCH, with two wings and a common area in the center.
“The institution likes to do that,” Campus Services director Rob Smith said, “because it drives the people to use the center stair route so that they can get to know the people in their building. It does help to create a little bit of camaraderie and a sense of belonging.”
“The exterior will probably be a cross between Gough and North Campus Hall,” Brigham said.
The academic building will primarily be used for the graduate and professional studies program, which is currently renting space at various locations off campus. The new building will be able to bring a large portion of the graduate and professional studies departments on campus.
“The first building is approximately a 30,000 square foot office/classroom complex of which the top two floors will be housing approximately 90 offices,” Smith said. “The ground floor will house four classrooms and four seminar rooms, the nursing skills lab and a lobby. Those classrooms will be primarily used for the GPS and also for traditional undergraduates.”
Getting in the way of Eastern’s plans for building have been Radnor Township, the Environmental Protection Agency and Eastern’s neighbors, among others.
“We’ve been getting some negative feedback from our neighbors who ultimately use our campus as a part of their backyard, and it does have a park-like setting,” Smith said.
Almost everyone affiliated with or surrounding Eastern would rather not see the University become overly developed.
“One of the things that our architects are strongly trying to do is to maintain that open feel that we have. We are not an inner-city campus,” Smith said.
When the buildings are up and the arguments resolved, Eastern’s campus will look very different.
“The University wants to be environmentally responsible. If this corner is developed, this will be the end of development on this campus, and it’s being done with the environment in mind,” Brigham said.