Lancaster, United States of America 2020



PROGRAM: studios for drawing, painting, woodworking, design, sculpture, photo, film and printmaking, forum, meeting rooms, galleries, cinema, faculty offices, seminar rooms, and a balcony in the trees
CLIENT: Franklin & Marshall College
    SIZE: 35,000 sf
STATUS: construction

On the historic campus of Franklin & Marshall College a new fine arts building will replace the Herman Arts Center, built in 1969. This is the first phase of a proposed New Arts Quad which will define the southwest entrance to Franklin & Marshall's campus.

The large diameter old growth trees, the oldest elements of the Franklin & Marshall campus, were the conceptual generator of the building’s geometry. The raised pavilion takes its shape from the concave inflection of the existing campus trees (all of which are preserved on the site). As a lightweight building, its main floor is lifted into the trees with the ground level open to Buchanan Park and the Arts Quad.

The billowing suspended lightweight architecture of the new building is articulated with thin in wall trusses – like a box kite. The concrete walls at the ground level articulate the light & heavy distinction like the heavy trunks of the nearby trees.

The skin is made of a new recycled glass aggregate material called “Poraver” with natural light to all studios provided by Okalux insulated channel glass and skylights. There are operable glass windows in every studio.

The state of the art geothermal heating and cooling of the new building, and its super-insulated envelope are part of the aspirations of a sample future architecture of near "net zero" energy. A large reflecting pool doubles as campus stormwater overflow. The reflections of the hovering building at night glowing in the water add to the special articulation of this place defining the new Arts Quad.


  • architect
    • – Steven Holl Architects
    • Steven Holl ( design architect, principal )
    • Chris McVoy ( senior partner in charge )
    • Garrick Ambrose ( project architect, senior associate )
    • Carolina Cohen Freue ( assistant project architect )
    • Dominik Sigg, Marcus Carter, Elise Riley, Michael Haddy, Hannah LaSota (project team)