Franklin & Marshall College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Dec. 15 to approve construction of the Susan & Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center, which will dramatically enhance F&M’s academic program and contribute to Lancaster’s vibrant arts culture.
The inspiring building will facilitate the creation of art and the study of visual culture in spaces designed to foster creativity. Designed by the renowned architect Steven Holl, the Winter Visual Arts Center will include a wide range of teaching studios, galleries managed by the Phillips Museum of Art, a state-of-the-art cinema, classrooms, student and faculty work spaces and space for digital and analog film production and editing. The building will open for the fall 2019 semester.
“The Winter Visual Arts Center will provide an inspiring resource for our students and faculty in Art & Art History and Film & Media Studies,” President Daniel R. Porterfield said. “In addition, it supports F&M’s talent strategy to recruit, educate and launch extraordinary student talent from every zip code in our country and around the globe. It also will transform the southern end of campus, connect the College and Buchanan Park, and support the City of Lancaster’s thriving arts culture.”
Funding for the $29 million Winter Visual Arts Center began with a $10 million commitment – the largest single gift from an alumnus in the College’s history – from Trustee Benjamin J. Winter ’67 and his wife, Susan, who also helped fund the initial exploratory phase in 2015.
“Susan and I want to help build on F&M’s visual arts excellence with a facility that provides the space and tools as designed by one of the world’s great architects, Steven Holl,” Ben Winter said. “This is an inspirational project for an institution that inspires students.”
Holl and his firm designed the building as “a pavilion on the park,” to rise among the trees, many of which have stood for more than 100 years and are among the oldest on F&M’s historic 19th-century campus. The Winter Visual Arts Center will provide state-of-the-art studios for teaching drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, photography and film. It will include two classrooms, a black-box lighting studio and an 84-seat cinema that doubles as lecture hall and performance space.
Faculty studios will overlook teaching studios, to allow students to see professional artists at work. In addition, the center will have two workspaces for senior art majors, an art history resource room, and two small galleries to showcase student and faculty work as well as feature an occasional visiting exhibition.
“I am pleased to see us move ahead on a project that not only will enhance Franklin & Marshall’s academic mission, but also place the College on the cutting edge of teaching and learning in the visual arts,” said Susan L. Washburn ’73, chair of F&M’s board of trustees. “In the years to come, the center will provide great opportunities for our students.”
At 33,600 square feet, the center will replace the roughly 20,000-square-foot Herman Arts Building, constructed in 1969. Demolition is scheduled to begin early next year. More than 50 years ago, the Herman family provided an investment that increased the focus on visual arts at F&M. The College continues to recognize their contribution.