Chatham University Eden Hall Campus

Architect: Mithun

Owner: Chatham University

Location: Richland Township, Pa.

Award of Excellence

Chatham University’s new Eden Hall Campus is designed to prepare students for an uncertain future, where skills related to research and creative problem solving are essential. The campus is designed as a living lab to support research into topics including sustainable food systems, water and air quality, and the social systems they support with a curriculum that encourages hands-on experiential learning so that graduates gain experience tackling real-world problems and creating positive results, as preparation for careers as sustainability professionals.

Built sustainably from the ground up, the campus design features full-cycle water recycling, net positive energy production and zero waste operations in an immersive living and learning environment that will ultimately house 1200 residential students. The first phase of construction is complete and had initial occupancy in 2015. Phase one construction occupies 31 acres of the 388-acre site and includes the first dormitory, a field lab and hoop house, café and dining commons with classroom facilities designed to support 250 students. The site development design includes pathways for pedestrians and bikes, remote parking with PV canopies, a 350-seat amphitheater and a multi-functional “mosaic” landscape that includes raingardens, a natural treatment wetland, agriculture and orchards interwoven with forests and meadows.

"Simple, elegant, and transformative aesthetically and behaviorally.  This is smart organization and consistent language that provides the seeds for a fully sustainable campus" ~ Jury statement

The campus is intentionally a work in progress, a place and object of inquiry, as the buildings, landscapes and infrastructure have been developed as an active research environment including building technology, renewable energy systems, sustainable agriculture and food systems, aquaculture, water treatment and nutrient recovery, watershed protection, soils, wildlife and habitat, etc. Design integration is demonstrated, tested and measured in the linked site and building infrastructures, and strategies to build community and support healthy living are ongoing explorations as well.

The overall campus plan is designed to reveal natural systems, with buildings sited so movement occurs along the flow line of the site, with primary campus circulation tracing the low point of the valley, orienting to the watershed and framing views beyond. Raingardens are interspersed with gathering places, illustrating patch ecology and leading to an amphitheater that doubles as a stormwater basin with raingarden plantings surrounding an elevated stage. The mosaic field by the main entry is developed as an educational garden where diverse functional landscapes are highlighted including constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment, rooftop rainwater collection, raingardens for stormwater management, native plantings and herbs for the kitchen—a place where old meets new, highlighting and contrasting native plantings with agricultural patterns.

The buildings are designed to echo the simple utilitarian forms of traditional farm structures, with each building a direct physical expression of its function. Structures are oriented to maximize active and passive solar efficiency and cross ventilation, with modern, low-carbon and non-toxic materials used throughout and sustainable strategies are made visible and explicit. Predominantly a locally sourced palette of natural materials, the materials and furniture choices also highlight innovative manufactured products from the Pittsburgh area. Finally, artwork is integrated into features such as the main entry gates, watershed markers, and the Dairy Barn homage to its prior use.

Additional information

Accessibility: Studio Pacifica

AV, Acoustics and Security Consultant: Shen Milsom & Wilke

Landscape Architect: Mithun

Civil: Civil and Environmental Consultants (CEC)

Constructed Wetlands and Water System Design: Biohabitats

Commissioning Agent: CJL Engineering

Envelope: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Food Service: The Marshall Associates

General Contractor: Sota Construction

Interior Design and Furniture:  Mithun

Lighting Designer: WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

MEP: Interface Engineering

On-site Project Management: Rothschild Doyno Collaborative

Structural: KPFF Consulting Engineers


David Van Galen, AIA, (2018 Chair) Integrus Architects, Seattle

Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA, Ayers Saint Gross, Tempe, Arizona

Wendy Rogers, FAIA, LPA, Inc., Irvine, California

Judy Hoskens, Assoc. AIA, REFP, Cuningham Group, Minneapolis

Image credits

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus exterior

Bruce Damonte

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus pavillion

Bruce Damonte

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus exterior

Bruce Damonte

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus stair seating

Bruce Damonte