Chatham University Eden Hall Campus
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.
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.