Chatham University Eden Hall Campus

Architect: Mithun

Owner: Chatham University

Location: Richland Township, Pennsylvania

Project site: Previously developed land

Building program type(s): Education–College/University (campus-level), Food Service–Restaurant/Cafeteria, Laboratory, Lodging–Residence Hall/Dormitory, Public Assembly–General

After receiving the donation of the 388-acre Eden Hall Farm north of Pittsburgh, Chatham University conceived an audacious goal to create the world’s first net-positive campus. Home of the Falk School of Sustainability, Eden Hall Campus generates more energy than it uses, is a water resource, produces food, recycles nutrients and supports habitat and healthy soils while developing the next generation of environmental stewards.

Linked buildings, landscapes and infrastructure support an active and experiential research environment. New building forms, outdoor gathering spaces and integrated artwork complement and interpret natural site systems, while making cutting-edge sustainable strategies transparent and explicit.

The core campus will support 250 residential students when complete–with buildings, landscapes and infrastructure developed as an integrated research environment for building technology, renewable energy systems, sustainable agriculture and food systems, aquaculture, water treatment and nutrient recovery, watershed protection, soils, wildlife and habitat. Image: Mithun

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus, home to the Falk School of Sustainability has been designed and built to demonstrate and test sustainable systems from the ground up, featuring fullcycle water reuse systems, net positive energy production and zero waste operations in an immersive living and learning environment. This project takes on the challenge of sustainable living and the big idea of the “New Farm,” as sustainable productive areas adjacent to urban centers are necessary to achieve a sustainable region.

The first phase of development for this new satellite campus is 31.5 acres within a 388-acre site that will ultimately house 1,200 residential students. The campus provides an important opportunity to demonstrate sustainable land-use practices in the peri-urban setting—as this urban to rural interface area is the fastest growing portion of Greater Pittsburgh and also the area with the greatest water quality challenges in the state. The campus invites research as well as daily mindful living as it engages and raises awareness of how individuals and communities impact resources and living systems.

The first phase of construction had its initial occupancy in 2015—the first dormitory, field lab and hoop house, café, dining commons with integrated classrooms, outdoor gathering spaces and supporting infrastructure—and additional facilities have been designed to define a core campus supporting 250 residential students.

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 exploration of strategies to build community and support healthy living is ongoing as well.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2013

Year of substantial project completion: 2015

Gross conditioned floor area: 42,219 sq ft

Gross unconditioned floor area: 3,050 sq ft

Number of stories: 3

Project Climate Zone: 5A (US climate zones-IECC)

Annual hours of operation: 8,760

Site area: 1,370,309 sq ft

Project site context/setting: rural

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $50 million

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 150

Project team

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems: Interface Engineering

Constructed wetlands and water system design: Biohabitats

Civil engineer: Civil and Environmental Consultants (CEC)

Structural engineer: KPFF Engineers

Onsite project management: Rothschild Doyno Collaborative

General contractor: Sota Construction

Commissioning agent: CJL Engineering

Food service: The Marshall Associates

Lighting designer: WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

AV/Acoustics: Shen Milson & Wilke

Accessibility: Studio Pacifica

Envelope: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger


Annie Chu, FAIA IIDA


Woodbury University

Los Angeles, California

Steve Kieran, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Kieran Timberlake

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

David Lake, FAIA

Lake Flato

San Antonio, Texas

Bungane Mehlomakulu, PE LEED AP

Integral Group

Austin, Texas

Amanda Sturgeon, FAIA

Living Futures Institute

Seattle, Washington

Jury comments

"Exemplary in its integrated water management and treatment systems, this project is an ambitious vision for a new sustainable campus. The design established aggressive energy thresholds for each of the buildings and integrated sustainable principles into a way of campus life. All wastewater is filtered onsite in wetlands via treatment systems that also offer research and learning opportunities. All campus facilities, including plant buildings, are designed for use as classrooms. Both the spaces between buildings and the structures are put into service, fulfilling the mission of the curriculum for an education founded on sustainable principles and environmental stewardship."


Image credits

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Bruce Damonte

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Chatham University; Bruce Damonte

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Bruce Damonte

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus_image16_M9

Bruce Damonte

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus_image3_M1


Chatham University Eden Hall Campus_image7_M4

Bruce Damonte

Chatham University Eden Hall Campus_image8_M5

Bruce Damonte


Bruce Damonte