New construction is transforming south campus.

By Christina Masciere Wallace

aerial view of south campus constructionLast summer, the farmland south of Fraternity Road was planted with something new — drainage pipes for storm water and sewer management, and supply lines for power, data networking, fire protection, steam and chilled water.

Week after week, the rumble of heavy equipment filled the air as work crews prepared the 50-acre tract just south of Bertrand Library to become a new quad over the next decade or more — the single-largest building project Bucknell has ever undertaken. The quad will be anchored by Academic West, a 70,000-square-foot building behind Bertrand Library that will house classrooms, faculty offices, meeting areas and hearth spaces for informal student-faculty interaction.

“Everything we are putting in the ground now is preparing Bucknell for the future,” says Dennis Hawley ’72, M’73, associate vice president for facilities.

Last fall, the Board of Trustees approved spending $17 million for south-campus site preparation as well as construction of two affinity houses to replace Lambda Chi Alpha and Kappa Delta Rho, the latter of which was recently demolished to make way for academic facilities. Lambda Chi moves into the new house in the spring, and KDR, which does not have an active Bucknell chapter, is scheduled to be re-colonized in coming years.

Other structures proposed for the area include Academic East, a 60,000-square-foot facility facing Academic West, several residence halls and an arts building.

In September 2011, the Board approved the construction of Academic West, which is anticipated to get underway in March and to open for classes in August 2013. By moving social sciences to Academic West, the University will create a domino effect that frees up offices and classrooms for other academic programs in buildings across campus. The quad created by Academic West and the proposed Academic East will focus on social sciences and engineering.

Construction plans for Academic West emphasize sustainability. It will be certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) at the silver level, signifying that it meets specific criteria for sustainable building and operation practices. The facility will include a partial “green roof,” rain gardens with native plants to help manage storm-water runoff, water-efficient fixtures to reduce potable water use by at least 30 percent and energy performance that is at least 24 percent more efficient than that achieved under typical design standards.

The cost of construction for Academic West is estimated at $24 million. Gifts and pledges have accounted for almost $22 million in private donations, including significant gifts from Trustee Emeritus Robert C. Rooke, Trustee William Morrow ’70 and Steve Holmes ’79, P’06, P’08, P’12, who is a trustee and chair of the comprehensive campaign.

“We deeply appreciate the generosity of our lead donors, who show tremendous foresight,” says President John Bravman. “The construction of Academic West is critical to meeting space demands that impact academic programs across the University.

“The best universities are those that embrace and prepare for the future,” he continues. “Generations from now, the development of south campus will be seen as a turning point in Bucknell history.”

See a photo gallery of south campus construction at