Chatham proposes eco-friendly housing at Eden Hall
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Chatham University says it wants to develop housing for about 500 students on its Eden Hall campus in Richland, grouping them in eco-friendly dwellings as they pursue environmental studies.
The housing would be built in stages as demand warrants over the next decade, with the first 150 beds completed by perhaps 2013, Chatham President Esther Barazzone said Monday.
Another 500 nonresidential students eventually may attend classes and various programs at the site, though the timeline for that is less defined, she said.
Dr. Barazzone spoke late Monday after Chatham announced the hiring of an architectural team to lead master planning for the 388-acre property. The Eden Hall Farm property on Ridge Road was donated to Chatham in 2008 by the Eden Hall Foundation.
The master plan, once developed, will be submitted to school trustees in June for their approval, then brought before township officials.
School officials also announced Monday early funding support for the project, including a $750,000 gift from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
Chatham says the "green" campus will be the home of the university's new School of Sustainability and the Environment. Dr. Barazzone said it will be the second free-standing school of sustainability -- developed independent of any school of agriculture or forestry -- to open in the United States.
"It's going to be very different than your traditional college campus," she said.
Though plans are in the early stages, Dr. Barazzone said the residences of 50 beds or less likely will have community gardens. The residences, an as-yet-undetermined number of academic buildings and the campus itself will be carbon neutral, able to process waste and replace whatever energy they use, she said.
"We're committed to keeping a significant amount of the land open and unbuilt, which doesn't mean uncultivated," Dr. Barazzone said.
Development of meadows are among the possibilities, she said.
The university intends to meet with residents in the area to address any questions or concerns and will work to minimize any traffic impact, Dr. Barazzone said.
Chatham officials developing the campus "will be very respectful of the land," she pledged. "I'm eager not to upset the community."
Chatham says the development would provide a natural setting for research on water, land and alternate energy sources and would have beneficial impact across the region.
The first degree program to be housed out of Eden Hall will be a master's degree in sustainability. Other programs are expected to draw a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, and Dr. Barazzone said she can envision students -- even from other universities -- spending a semester studying at the new campus.
The team hired for the master planning will consist of Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell of Kansas City, Mo., and landscape design firm Andropogon Associates of Philadelphia.
Eden Hall is 10 times the size of Chatham's Shadyside campus, and the students at the new site could significantly raise the university's current 2,300-student enrollment, Dr. Barazzone said.
However, the scale of development will be influenced by Chatham's ability to raise funds. To that end, Chatham is planning to earmark $60 million from an upcoming fundraising campaign that could total between $75 million and $100 million to initially support the project, she said.
The Richard King Mellon Foundation funding will go toward the master plan and a search under way for a dean for the new school, officials said.
Chatham officials said the PNC Foundation gave support as well to the master plan, but officials did not provide the amount.
Dr. Barazzone said the school also has received a commitment from a donor she did not identify to create the first endowed chair in the new school: a professorship in social justice and sustainability.
First Published April 6, 2010 12:00 am