With an iconic white barn as a backdrop, Chatham University President Esther L. Barazzone stood on the ground once called Eden Hall Farm and spoke of the dreams of turning it into a campus known as a national and world leader in sustainability and green technology.
Chatham took a major step toward realizing that dream Thursday when it broke ground on the $40 million initial phase of its new Eden Hall Campus, the first academic community in the world built from the ground up for sustainable development, living and learning.
As part of the groundbreaking ceremony, Chatham announced receipt of a $7.5 million gift from Richard King Mellon Foundation for Eden Hall, the largest contribution to date since the original land gift by the Eden Hall Foundation.
Since 2008, $28.6 million has been raised for the comprehensive sustainability project consisting of $14.1 million for construction and $14.5 million for planning, academic development and programming.
The initial stage of construction consists of the development of field labs, classrooms, a café, an amphitheater, a mosaic garden, and infrastructure development to be completed by fall 2013.
A dining hall and two residence halls supporting 150 beds are scheduled for completion in 2015. Costs for these stages of the project are estimated at $40 million.
"We're here to build for the rest of the world," Dr. David Hassenzahl, dean of the School of Sustainability and the Environment, told the guests gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony.
The university's food studies program will teach better ways of growing, he said, then joked that one of the first receipts he signed was for $750 worth of horse manure.
"I'm going to frame it," he said to the audience's laughter.
Nowadays new development, whether residential or commercial, adds stress to the environment, Hassenzahl said.
"Here we will learn new practices and share what we learn," he said. "Students will be ambassadors for those better ways of living."
Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-40th District, said he and his wife ended up at the Eden Hall property one day as they drove around his district.
They marveled at the rural spot that is so close to their more urban Shaler neighborhood.
"We both remarked: 'I hope they keep it that way,'" he said.
Then Vulakovich joked that he is a "frustrated builder" and told the Chatham representatives that he probably would come out and ask questions about what they were doing.
"If I give you suggestions, be polite and say 'good idea' and keep doing what you're doing," he told the chuckling audience.
Speaking about Chatham's plan to clean wastewater in a natural system that produces water fit to drink, he chided Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald:
"You'll be the first one drinking that cup of water. If you're OK in half an hour, I'll be the second one to do it."
Fitzgerald suggested one cup and two straws "to show what partisanship is all about."
He praised Chatham's vision to teach and live sustainability.
Herb Dankmyer, chairman of the Richland Board of Supervisors, said it has been a pleasure to work with Chatham. The university's representatives have appeared before the supervisors numerous times for approval on their plans.
Designed to ultimately serve more than 1,000 students, Eden Hall will feature high performance green buildings and the latest in sustainable land, energy and water-management techniques.
“Eden Hall is a campus like no other—a next generation living laboratory where students will not only study sustainability, but be immersed in it,” Barazzone said.
“This remarkable campus will be a model of advanced sustainability, a place of stunning beauty, and strengthen Pittsburgh’s continued leadership in green innovation and buildings.”
See More on Patch
- Chatham University Receives $25,000 Dominion Foundation Grant
- Food, Farm, and Field at Chatham's Eden Hall Summer Sustainability Course
- Chatham Eden Hall Campus Wins Final Approval
- Chatham Moves Closer to Breaking Ground at Eden Hall Campus
- Richland Supervisors Consider Chatham's First Phase of Development for Eden Hall
- Chatham University Outlines Independent Wastewater System for Eden Hall Campus
- Richland Supervisors OK Chatham's Campus Master Plan
- Chatham Announces Master Plan for Eden Hall Farm Campus
- Chatham Makes Plans for Eden Hall Farm Campus
- New Chatham Dean To Lead Program at Eden Hall Campus
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