The STEPS building houses Lehigh University’s innovative new Science, Technology, Environment, Policy and Society program, which integrates the hard sciences with the social sciences. The STEPS Building celebrates the richness of a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to environmental, technical and social challenges. Its LEED Gold design incorporates innovative strategies for its site, envelope and systems.
Sited at the corner of a prominent campus intersection, this multi-story facility gives pride of place to Lehigh’s premier interdisciplinary science program and its commitment to science on display. The L-shaped parti shifts in scale as it engages the sloping site, linking to a neighboring science building while defining pedestrian street edges and enclosing a popular recreation field. Inside, the design dissolves boundaries between classroom and laboratory to encourage collaborative learning. Teaching and research areas are mingled with seminar rooms, study lounges and faculty offices, rather than isolated in separate areas. Expansive and varied social spaces enrich the program, helping to establish the interactive, communal atmosphere sought by the University.
While melding site and program, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson also introduced technological and sustainable practices to achieve a fully integrated design. Glazing is low-E, fritted and tinted depending on orientation, providing day-light penetration, glare reduction and visual comfort. Additional energy management strategies include a highly insulated envelope, radiant heat and industrial low-speed fans. Natural materials, low- and zero-VOC products, and high ventilation standards improve air quality. The design preserves an existing green landscape, supplementing it with indigenous, drought-resistant plantings and a substantial green roof to reduce heat and retain storm water.