Brick by Brick

It’s been a while since a whole new building rose from the ground in the middle of the Moravian campus. Modern-looking Collier Hall of Science has a cornerstone plaque dated 1970, which qualifies it for grandparent status. The Timothy M. Breidegam Field House was completed in 1991, Reeves Library added its wings in 1992, and the Haupert Union Building was expanded in 1996. The Hillside Residences were built in 1999 and 2000, but they’re on the edge of campus, not right in the midst of the daily round of classes and meals and trips to the library.

So the new academic building across from the HUB is really the first whole structure on the central campus in quite a long time to progress from a hole in the ground to something that (as of this writing) can be said to adumbrate a building.

The $19 million building, identified through a long-range planning process as the College’s most pressing need and approved by the Board of Trustees last spring, will provide much-needed classroom space, laboratory and research facilities, conference and lecture rooms, and faculty offices. Designed by H2L2 of New York and Philadelphia, whose best-known project may be the award-winning adaptive restoration of the Philadelphia Bourse Building, it comprises 55,000 square feet of space divided among three floors.

When complete, it will have 15 new classrooms and house the departments of education, psychology, mathematics and computer science, and sociology, freeing up rooms in Comenius Hall and other buildings for currently displaced faculty and administrative offices.

Its construction, beginning just as the fall semester got under way, has meant that the campus community has been able to witness its step-by-step growth.

A cluster of small houses, which had held various administrative offices of the College, was demolished in June. By the end of August, construction vehicles of the contractor, Alvin H. Butz Inc. of Allentown, began to arrive in small groups, huddled together as though consulting on the day’s tasks.

By early September, they had scooped out a large hole in the ground, piling a mound of red earth at one end of the building site, and soon after came the concrete footings of the foundation.

As of this writing, the hole in the ground looks more like an archeological excavation site, as the earth has been piled and shaped within it—a sign of things to come in the subterranean level.

Those outside the campus community can monitor the daily progress of the growing building, thanks to a Web camera mounted on Collier Hall. To access it, go to the Web site for Moravian College,, and click in the first box under the collage, when the multiple message display cycles to “Priorities for the Future: New Academic Building.” When the next screen settles on “New Academic Facility,” click on Video Cam.

The new academic building's foundation takes shape between the Haupert Union Building and Collier Hall of Science.

Photo: Susan Woolley