Villanova University | Villanova, Pennsylvania
The campus of Villanova University had traditionally been concentrated on the north side of Lancaster Avenue, an important regional thoroughfare. As the university began thinking about how to strengthen their campus community while communicating a strong brand identity consistent with their values and history, it became clear that the south side of Lancaster Avenue could offer design opportunities to achieve these goals.
VMA, as lead architect in association with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, worked with the university over the course of several years to develop a comprehensive plan for a prominent site directly across Lancaster Avenue from their iconic church. The process included traffic, civil engineering, landscaping, programming, conceptual architectural & engineering design, and cost estimating for several distinct projects: a pedestrian bridge crossing Lancaster Avenue to connect the site and an adjacent public transportation station with the rest of campus; a new 1,100-bed student housing development, increasing their housing stock by 25%, with ground-floor retail that would replace a large surface parking lot; a new garage to replace the parking displaced by the student housing; and a new professional-grade performing arts center with multiple venues.
After the completion of the plan, we then continued working with Villanova to navigate a complex four-year approvals process which involved community meetings, the creation of an overlay district, and a conditional use hearing process. Additional approvals included land development, grading plan, design review, shade tree replacement & buffering, NPDES permit, and construction permitting. We coordinated reviews by Radnor Township, Delaware County, utility providers, PennDOT, and SEPTA (regional public transport provider).
Aesthetically, the design for all the projects emerged from a careful study of the existing campus buildings and is of a style we dubbed “Villanova Gothic.” Maintaining and emphasizing views of the church was another guiding principle. The new parking garage and the pedestrian bridge, completed in 2018, will soon be joined by the student housing in Summer 2019 and by the performing arts center in Winter 2019.