Winter Center architecture proves exemplary

Zachary Staab
Assoc. News Editor

The newly finished Winter Center was honored with the “Special Citation” award on Dec. 6, 2012.
The newly finished Winter Center was honored with the “Special Citation” award on Dec. 6, 2012.

The $26 million renovation to the Winter Visual and Performance Arts Center was finished on October 12, 2012. The renovations, for those who haven’t had a chance to visit the 84,000 square-foot center, include a large variety of performance and teaching venues, a two-story atrium, monumental stair and mezzanine, large corridors that double as green room for performers, corridor lounges for student hang-out space and lobbies for university and public interaction.
The Chief Architect for the project, Barry J. Pell, explained that roughly 10 preliminary designs were explored, before the final building plan was agreed upon. The final plan evokes a sense of “movement”, Pell described, that was extracted from the Light Auditorium, the pre-existing structure and building site.
“Movement is something you always have in a building, but in this case it was something to accent and reinforce with materials and sense of spatial flow,” said Pell.
Professionals from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) agree that the revised Winter Visual and Performance Arts Center exemplifies functionality for faculty, students, visitors, and performances of music, art, and drama. On December 6, 2012, the Eastern PA Chapter (EPC) of the AIA bestowed the prestigious “Special Citation” award to Spellman Farmer Architects, the Bethlehem, PA, architectural firm that Pell recently retired from.
Knowing that AIA judges value the practical nature of a facility, Pell said, “the size allowed us to make a major design statement. We always think our designs are worthy but we are very proud of how this one looked and functioned.” The actual award is a paper document that the Spellman Farmer Architects will frame and present to Millersville University in the near future. In addition, the firm will proudly list photos of the Winter Center on their website, to be used as a promotion for similar events.
Pell has designed buildings on college campuses and several visual and performance arts facilities, which include a theatre for Gettysburg College, a theatre and music center for Susquehanna University (Degenstein Center), addition/renovations to the Allentown Symphony Hall, and the recently designed Steel Stacks Center for Arts Quest in Bethlehem, Pa. This master of architecture is no stranger to awards, having received the American Institute of Architecture of Pennsylvania (AIA) Silver Award, the most prestigious award given by AIA, and a number of Pell’s designs have been featured in major architectural design magazines.
“There are always regrets for the project that got away, the project you were not selected for, and thinking of what you could have done,” said Pell. Nevertheless, the recently retired Pell is looking forward to a Grand Canyon rafting trip in May. Pell enjoys revisiting a final product, and is also looking forward to seeing a performance of two at the Winter Center in the near future.