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Lafayette College Arts Center

Williams Visual Arts Building

234-249 North 3rd Street
Easton, Pa 18042

Architect: Joseph N. Biondo Architects
Werner A. Buckl & Associates

Date of Completion: December 2000

The transformation from the Hoffman Motors Building to one of our nation’s leading high-tech facilities for Art Education and Gallery Exhibitions started with the formation of a team.

This team started with Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art and Bill Stank, Assistant Director/Architect of Plant Operations of Lafayette College, Architects Joseph Biondo and Larry Rosensweet and Barry Miller of Miller, Miller & McLachlan Construction, Inc. As the project developed, this team was extended to the subcontractors and suppliers.

Initial investigations analyzed the condition of the existing structure and determined an overall direction for the project. To “Fast Track the Project” bidding was completed in phases to allow construction to begin before design was complete.

The design was allowed to evolve throughout the entire project. Over 200 Change Order Items were kept track of through out the project. Miller, Miller & McLachlan’s “Open Book” management allowed the team to proceed with decisions knowing they were receiving the best cost/quality relationship possible.

The initial phases included demolition of the existing roof structure and three exterior walls. Temporary support of the perimeter of the second floor was required until the existing slab could be cut back to accept new structural steel. Structural repairs were made to the 28’ concrete columns and beams that support the first floor.

The fact that the Bushkill Creek flows under this and neighboring buildings played a large part in design decisions.

This building is made of two separate and unique type structures. The North end was constructed with concrete encased beams and exposed steel columns. The South was constructed with a metal pan system and concrete columns. Each end was built separately and they are not square to each other. This complicated the co-ordination and installation of new structural steel with the existing structures.

According to Architect, Joe Biondo, the building is a celebration of materials in their natural state.

Initial visitors to this building have acclaimed it as a Work of Art as well as an Art Center.

This 24,712 SF renovation has all building components exposed. Concrete floor and counters have a natural appearance. Structural steel and hollow metal are sand blasted and clear coated. Pine roofing deck, doors, paneling and millwork are seen throughout the building. Custom rolled steel sinks with glass ends are located on each floor along with their exposed polished copper lines.

Clinker brick gives exterior and interior elements of the building texture and flow while four-sided butt glazing introduces large smooth areas.

Ed Kerns has said, “One of the facility’s hallmarks is its translucency and flexibility. Ambient natural light let in by glass walls, windows and skylights permeate the entire building”. “Our students will be able to learn in an environment that’s both inspirational, truly inspirational, and also technologically advanced.”

All mechanical elements flow from the core area of each floor. Extensive care was given to co-ordinate plumbing, sprinkler, ductwork, conduits and lighting throughout the building.

This art facility uses wireless technology for instant access to the college’s expanding computer database of digital images and internet-based images from museum collections throughout the world.

Students have the ability to manipulate images digitally and print these on a variety of materials such as film negatives, archival paper and canvases.

The facility is intended for “community based teaching”. It includes a gallery that is being used for exhibitions by local and regional artists.

The college has included studio and office space that is occupied by both full-time faculty members and community-based artists who teach at the college.