Updates on the ongoing design concepts for Lancaster Avenue

Sarah Nam

Walking through campus, students see the diligent construction team hard at work. Every day, there is progress. The Villanovan sat down with Chris Kovolski, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations and External Affairs and Marilou Smith, Senior Project Manager, to discuss the ongoing Lancaster Avenue Project. 

One goal of the Lancaster Avenue Project is to provide housing options for upperclassmen undergraduates who wish to live on campus. These` new residence hall, built on the University’s 14-acre main parking lot, will feature a convenience store, a full-service restaurant and a “mini bookstore,” selling apparel. There will also be a mailroom and workspace with new technology for students to use.

The new building will reflect the collegiate-gothic style that is characteristic of other buildings on campus such as the St. Augustine monastery and Tolentine. Housing approximately 1,135 seniors, the new residence hall will offer on-campus residence opportunities and is set to be completed by the Summer of 2019. 

“Supply of college housing doesn’t always meet demand,” Kovolski said. This new construction project will “serve students and improve the University’s relationship with the surrounding community.” 

In addition to the residence hall, the Lancaster Avenue Project includes the construction of the Performing Arts Center, with two performance spaces: the proscenium and the black-box theater.

Kovolski describes it as a “bigger Vasey Hall.” The Performing Arts Center will include offices and places for rehearsal. It will encourage students to pursue their passions for the arts and music.

“The Performing Arts Center addresses the vibrancy of the arts program,” Kovolski said. “Students will have the space to rehearse instead of practicing in the hallways.” 

An important aim of the Lancaster Avenue Project is to facilitate traffic flow and ensure pedestrian safety. To distribute parking space throughout campus, two levels were added to the parking garage next to the Saint Augustine Center.

The University will also widen Ithan Avenue and add turn lanes. In order to accommodate pedestrians and students, St. Thomas Way will be built so that students can walk directly from the St. Thomas Church to the new residence hall and South campus. Rising above traffic, this walkway will enable students to walk safely around campus without waiting at the traffic light. 

The Lancaster Avenue Project will provide more resources for students and the community. It will, according to Kovolski, foster an improved academic environment. Also, as the University’s national reputation rises, the project will enable the University to be more competitive among other institutions. 

Kovolski shared Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A. Ph.D.’s goal for this project: “When it’s done, instead of driving past Villanova, you will drive through Villanova.”