The fall 2020 opening of the Susan and Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center put a spotlight on Franklin & Marshall's dynamic art programs and esteemed faculty. The College’s commitment to the liberal arts is again recognized with the Winter Visual Arts Center earning The Architect’s Newspaper 2020 Best of Design Award in the institutional / higher education category. It also was a finalist for overall Project of the Year. Winners were announced in late December.
Architect Steven Holl's initial sketches of the Winter Visual Arts Center pay homage to College namesake Benjamin Franklin. The building’s dramatic cantilevers and arced geometry bring visions of Franklin’s iconic kite to life.
Drawing on the College’s motto, Lux et Lex – Light and Law – Holl’s design embodies “light” to complement the “heavy” brick architecture of Old Main and surrounding campus buildings.
Situated on the south side of campus, the Winter Visual Arts Center serves as the new home of the art, art history and film departments as well as the Colleen Ross Weis ’85 and Martin Laiks Cinema, the Gipson Grand Forum, the Thomas A. & Georgina T. Russo Family Foundation Gallery and the as-yet unnamed West Gallery.
The building’s natural illumination and ventilation, along with active slab heating and cooling, contribute to the project’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status, the rating system used by the U.S. Green Building Council to measure a building’s sustainability and resource-efficiency.
Best of Design designation is based on several criteria, including strength of presentation, innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, and overall design.