Architecture students lead Lehigh Pizza redesign and renovation efforts
Lehigh Pizza, a cornerstone of the South Bethlehem community since 1975, has witnessed firsthand the transformation of the South Side.
Since moving to its current location in 1996 at the corner of 3rd and New Street, Lehigh Pizza has remained unchanged. Now, however, the restaurant plans to renovate with the help of students from Lehigh.
Seven Lehigh students have started a Lehigh Pizza renovation project. Janelle Laros, 21, a major in architecture, started working at Lehigh Pizza last summer as a cashier.
One day, during her shift, Laros was approached by one of the owners who asked her if she would be willing to help with the renovation of the pizzeria, knowing that she was a major in architecture. Eager to seize the opportunity, Laros nodded.
“I was fascinated by the experience of working there and it is also a very historic building, so I immediately noticed that there was a lot to be done in terms of redesign,” said Laros.
Together with fellow architecture student Ella Fabozzi, 22, the two began drafting a proposal to earn Lehigh academic credit for the project and coordinate with other interested peers.
Seven students in total – five architecture and design students and two business students – worked throughout the spring semester on this interdisciplinary project to improve businesses in South Bethlehem.
The owners of Lehigh Pizza presented the group with preliminary requests and a budget of $ 50,000.
“The goal of the project is to renovate the building and modernize the venue, but without losing the South Side feel in order to attract more students from Lehigh and maintain clientele from the South Side community,” said the major of architecture Mika Kossir, ’21.
The team’s design goals were to open up the interior space of the lobby, paint the exterior of the building, redesign new awnings, try to buy the adjacent city parking lot, create catering spaces. exterior and recreate the pizza box logo.
Fabozzi said the project was a great opportunity for architecture majors to not only gain real-life experience but also gain access to a studio in person, which was an anomaly last year because most architecture classes were taught remotely due to COVID-19.
The pandemic had an even greater impact on the group, as almost everyone in the group contracted the virus at the start of the semester, halting the initial progress of the project.
Fabozzi, Kossir and Laros all agreed that working remotely slows down the team considerably. The team was eventually able to come together on the Mountaintop campus to review reviews and coordinate designs together more effectively.
“If COVID wasn’t a thing, then we could all be together every day on the Mountaintop Campus in Building C, do whole nights and design together,” Kossir said.
Gradually throughout the semester, the team coordinated the renovation plans, with guidance from Fabozzi, who serves as the director of project design management, and improved the designs with feedback from the class supervisor, the professor Nikolov, and other faculty members of art, architecture and design.
Laros said the team had a lot of design trial and error in their process, but said they have collectively adopted the “everything no is one step closer to yes” mentality.
“It was a photo in the dark,” Laros said. “We had no idea how it was going to turn out, we totally admit we don’t know everything, but we’re totally committed to problem solving.”
The project is nearing its end of semester presentation, but Laros plans to continue finalizing designs over the next summer and the following semester.
She said that many people interested in contributing to the project have contacted the team.
Fusion, Lehigh’s student-run graphic design agency, has also established a bond with the team and plans to coordinate future efforts to finalize the Lehigh Pizza redesign.
“I hope this is the start of more South Side businesses using the resources Lehigh can offer them,” Fabozzi said.
Laros, who still works at Lehigh Pizza on weekends, said the project made him realize how interdisciplinary life is.
She said the project made her time working at Lehigh Pizza more fun and her time at Lehigh more interesting.
“Lehigh has the resources to improve the South Side community,” Laros said. “We have to support each other and improve together.”