Susan & Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center, Lancaster, PA, USA

Susan & Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center

The new Fine Arts Building will replace the Herman Arts Center, originally built in 1969, at the southwest entrance of the historic campus of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. The large deciduous trees, the oldest elements of the Franklin & Marshall Campus, are the conceptual inspiration behind the building’s geometry. As a lightweight building, its main floor - where double height art studios are located - is lifted into the trees, which has its shape from the concave inflection of the existing trees (all of which are preserved on the site).
The seasonal changing leaf coverage of the deciduous trees became part of Transsolar’s energy and comfort concept and was quantified in radiation studies. The leaves function as natural external shading to reduce the solar gains on the façade in summer and maximize solar gains and daylight during winter, when the trees lose their leaves.
High performance translucent insulated double layer channel glass facades, with an insulation value close to that of triple-glazing, in the curved skin provides diffuse light for the studio spaces, while minimizing solar gains and heat losses. Additional skylights bring natural light deep into the space – in particular to the mezzanine spaces that have no vertical exterior façade access. Operable windows in every studio create a connection to the outside – both visually and in terms of the natural ventilation concept. Students will be encouraged by indicator lights to interact with their building by opening the windows and relying exclusively on natural ventilation when conditions permit. The new fine arts building will be the first building on the campus that is naturally ventilated during the mild seasons. Space heating and cooling to ensure the highest thermal comfort is provided by a radiant heating and cooling system in the concrete floor.

The project is on target for LEED Gold certification.