Abington student apartments earn award for sustainability, community connections

Lions Gate Abington

The Lions Gate at Penn State Abington.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — The Montgomery County Planning Commission selected the Lions Gate Student Apartments at Penn State Abington to receive a Montgomery Award, which recognizes and promotes the best in planning and design in the county.

“The Lions Gate at Penn State Abington is an outstanding example of successful site reuse and sustainable design. Lions Gate, a transformative redevelopment project that culminated in a unique student living facility ... received a 2018 Montgomery Award for innovative design, community investment, and sustainable practices," according to a statement from the planning commission. 

"This project involved the repurposing of a vacated site, creative and sensitive design, and important community connections. This unique student living apartment complex expands the university’s public presence in this historic community while confirming its place as a prominent stakeholder," read the statement.

"This unique student living apartment complex expands the university’s public presence in this historic community while confirming its place as a prominent stakeholder."

— Montgomery County Planning Commission

Lions Gate, the college's first student residence, is located along a spur of the Route 611/Old York Road corridor, approximately a mile from the campus. The five-story building, which has 86 apartments containing 400 beds, was certified LEED gold.

The project received a grant from the Multimodal Transportation Fund and collaborated with municipal leadership to create a walkable environment. It is within easy walking distance of shopping centers and a train station as well as a library and Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health and promotes walking and cycling to shops, restaurants and transit. 

The commissioners noted that the building materials used, including local Wissahickon schist and exposed steel, combine to create a sleek, modern building that successfully blends into the fabric of the neighborhood: "Its connecting walkways, seating walls, and appealing gathering spaces, which are enhanced by the beautiful and functional rain gardens, create natural places for students to socialize."

According to the Planning Commission statement, “This 2.7-acre site, which is surrounded by a residential neighborhood as well as a synagogue, was formerly an automobile dealership with approximately 95 percent impervious coverage and no stormwater management. Now with approximately 50 percent impervious coverage, the environmentally sensitive site design integrates the unique building configuration."

About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With nearly 4,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 19 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more.