Construction equipment and chain-link fencing have become a common sight on Villanova’s campus, but the progress is clear, and the results will be spectacular. A new residence hall community is rising on the former site of the main parking lots along Lancaster Avenue; a pedestrian bridge spanning Lancaster Avenue has opened; the Finneran Pavilion is in the midst of a complete overhaul; new walkways, terraces and patios have been added to Mendel Field in the heart of campus, with more on the way this summer; and a groundbreaking ceremony recently was held for a state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center at the corner of Lancaster and Ithan Avenues.
A major event this spring was the opening of the new pedestrian bridge. The elevated walkway extends from the Villanova Station on SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line to the newly expanded plaza in front of St. Thomas of Villanova Church. The orchard lining the walk has been replanted and the pillar caps that read “Villanova College” have been incorporated into the new design.
The bridge will offer more than a safe way for Villanova students, faculty and staff, and visitors to traverse the busy, four-lane road that cuts through campus. It will also act as a connector between the University’s main campus and the new development taking shape along Lancaster Avenue.
The new residence halls along Lancaster Avenue will open in time for move-in at the start of the fall 2019 semester. The complex will provide a variety of living options and include apartments, suites and single rooms with 1,135 beds for upperclass students, allowing 85 percent of undergraduates to live on campus.
Student-centered amenities in the new halls will include two fitness centers, collaborative workspaces and outdoor courtyards. There will also be a market-style convenience store, and a full-service restaurant that will be designed as a gathering space for the entire community, including students, faculty and staff, alumni and visitors.
Construction began in spring 2018 on the final piece of the complex: a Performing Arts Center. The facility, scheduled to open in 2020, will unite the University’s artistic community under one roof, enriching Villanova’s campus and enhancing opportunities across disciplines. Serving as home to the Villanova Theatre program, as well as other music, performance and dance activities, it will provide a destination where students, faculty, parents, alumni and members of the local community can share their passion for the arts.
The new center will feature state-of-the-art performance spaces, including a 400-seat proscenium-style theater and a Courtyard Theater, classrooms to support education and artistic innovation, a dance studio and costume and scenery shops.
During summer 2017, the Pavilion was stripped clean of every seat, sign, fixture and floorboard, leaving behind an arena that was empty, yet full of opportunity, as a massive renovation began.
In late 2018, the arena will reopen as the Finneran Pavilion, named for William B. Finneran ’63 VSB, whose $22.6 million leadership gift kick-started the $65 million project. Everything inside will be new, from the scoreboards overhead to the seats along the sidelines.
To date, the new, 360-degree concourse has taken shape, and sunlight streams in through walls that have been opened to add windows and create a new entrance for the arena.
In 2011, the University launched an ambitious project to create a vehicle-free, pedestrian-friendly campus core. Over the next three years, driveways were transformed into brick-paved walkways with bluestone borders.
In summer 2017, attention turned to Mendel Field for the latest phase of the initiative.
By the end of the project in fall 2018, there will be new patios in front of Old Falvey, John Barry Hall and St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery, and the now-familiar brick pavers will wrap around a reshaped Mendel Field.
With every project, there is progress you can see, and there is also much happening below the surface and behind the scenes. Innovative stormwater management systems have been designed, installed and managed by a team led by stormwater expert Robert Traver, PhD, PE, DWRE, FEWRI, FASCE, ’82 MS, the Edward Daylor Chair in Civil Engineering, at the site of the new residence halls and at Mendel Field.
Underground utilities have been upgraded, and all new buildings are being constructed to achieve LEED Silver certification or higher by the U.S. Green Building Council, attesting to the achievement of high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability.
Questions and comments are welcomed.