Lancaster Avenue Pedestrian Bridge & Pike Garage
Villanova University | Villanova, Pennsylvania
Villanova University approved a district plan by architect of record VMA and collaborating partner Robert A.M. Stern Architects to transform an existing surface parking lot with new student housing and a performing arts center. However, Lancaster Avenue separates the district from the rest of campus and the parking lost through development would need to be accommodated elsewhere.
The initial plan included a multi-story parking garage, to be built in the first building phase, to mitigate the loss of surface parking. Designed to minimize the scale of its 300-foot long facade, the use of arched openings, fieldstone, and decorative concrete form a strong aesthetic link to the rest of campus. The garage’s naturally ventilated five levels are recessed into the sloped site, minimizing the perceived mass and keeping within local height restrictions. The use of precast construction allowed the work to be expedited.
The team’s design for the bridge created a physical and symbolic connector for the campus, linking The Commons student housing and an adjacent local rail station with the main campus on the north side of Lancaster Avenue. The bridge starts at an existing SEPTA pedestrian overpass and runs for 580 feet on an axis with the university’s iconic St. Thomas Church before ending, at-grade, at a new plaza in front of the church.
Taken together, the projects involved VMA and the university in a complex, years-long approval and planning process involving multiple agencies, including Radnor Township, Delaware County, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT,) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA.)
Size: 330,000 sf (garage) 600 lf (bridge)
Budget: $28 million (garage) $7.4 million (bridge)
Architecture, Planning, Landscape