Shining a Spotlight on Performing Arts Centers

Just as an athlete chooses a school for its sports facilities; a dancer, singer, actor, or musician often bases their decision on a performing arts program and its performance spaces. To stay competitive, K-12 schools and colleges/universities want to provide a state-of-the-art performing arts center on campus – a place for students to further develop their creative interests.

Nave Newell has a long history working on performing arts center projects in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Our most recent project, the Michael Jaharis Hall, at Haverford College, just won a Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Excellence Honorable Mention Award in the Building Additions, Renovations, and Adaptive Reuse category.  

So, what a great time to shine the spotlight on these facilities! Check out some of these amazing new buildings, additions, and renovations:

Haverford College

Roberts Hall and the Michael Jaharis Recital Hall

Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, PA and Haverford Township, Delaware County, PA

Nave Newell worked with Haverford College and their architect on a new facility for music education, rehearsal, and performance to improve and enhance the campus community’s longstanding and robust engagement with musical arts.

The project involved the renovation of the existing 100-year old Roberts Hall and an 11,200 sf addition that included a new rehearsal and recital hall, music library, practice rooms, electronic studio, and future Concert Hall.

The new home for music features the Michael Jaharis Recital Hall, an acoustically and visually inspiring space worthy of our talented music students and faculty, and a draw for musicians and the community beyond campus. It features fixed seating for 80, plus ample floor seating to rehearse a full orchestra or large chorus, or seat audience members near chamber music performers in an intimate setting. The space boasts excellent acoustics and a peerless view of the campus and duck pond. It also features advanced capacities for sound and video recording and multimedia performance.

Nave Newell’s civil design included grading, stormwater management, ADA access, survey, and landscape design. Our engineers secured a Township grading permit for construction.

The Department of Music moved into its newly expanded and renovated spaces in the summer of 2021.

You can view a neat time-lapse video of construction here.

Project Team:

  • Architect – William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.
  • Technology and MEP/FP – Bala Consulting Engineers
  • Construction – The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
  • Structural Engineers & Enclosure Specialists – LeMessurier
  • Architectural Acoustics – Kirkegaard

Villanova University

The John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts

Radnor Township, Delaware County, PA

Villanova University John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts

The John and Joan Mullen for the Performing Arts Center was the final piece in the major redevelopment of Villanova’s campus along Lancaster Avenue. Previously a surface parking lot, the site now serves as a cultural hub for the university and surrounding community. The new $60 million Performing Arts Center features 85,000 sf of versatile performance spaces, studios, and classrooms including the Topper Theatre, a 400-seat proscenium-style theatre, a 200-seat black box theater, and a 75-seat performance lab.  

Additionally, the Mullen Center contains:

  • Dance studio
  • Scene shop
  • Costume shop
  • Rehearsal room,
  • Dressing rooms
  • Green rooms.

There are practice rooms, classrooms, a box office, faculty and staff offices, three lobbies plus a roof terrace that are all suitable for receptions. The Mullen Center is a destination where the performing arts community can share their talent and passion.

For both the Commons and the Performing Arts Center project, Nave Newell prepared schematic design drawings and a zoning code amendment, allowing the project to proceed as a conditional use plan. Additional work included coordination to obtain additional land from SEPTA as well as working with the University and the architects to develop a site plan to meet programming needs and with municipal staff to investigate the sewer capacity to service the project. Green space, rain gardens, and plantings replaced the impervious parking lots, resulting in a significant improvement of water quality of the stormwater run-off from the site.

This LEED Silver Certified project was completed in 2020.

AIM Academy

Community Center

Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, PA

AIM Academy Community Center

The AIM Community Center, is a 23,000 sf new building, which features a full-sized gymnasium, stage, black box theater, green screen space, and a fitness center. It also houses the school’s flourishing arts department. AIM Academy secured a $1.5 million RACP grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which helped launch the development of this $8 million building.

Over the years, Nave Newell has worked with AIM leaders and their architect on various additions and improvement projects. This project included the redevelopment of an existing parking area for the new facility, which required zoning relief before proceeding to full site design and land development approvals. Site work involved redesigning the existing parking area and circulation, designing ADA-compliant pedestrian paths, and developing new stormwater conveyance and management systems. AIM celebrated the opening of this new facility on their campus along with their 10th anniversary in 2016.

Check out the construction time lapse video and ribbon cutting.

Holy Ghost Preparatory School

Holt Center

Bensalem Township, Bucks County, PA

Holy Ghost Preparatory School Holt Center Site Rendering

Nave Newell worked with the architect to redevelop the former Bound’s Beverage soda and beer distributorship into a new 27,000 sf performing arts, athletic and activity center. The new facility includes a state-of-the-art theater, music learning and practice rooms, a practice gym, and specialized indoor training areas for baseball, track and field, golf, lacrosse, and rowing.

Initially, Nave Newell provided due diligence, sketches, and renderings for the school’s land use attorney during the zoning process to secure a use variance from the Township’s Zoning Hearing Board. After that, Nave Newell designed site improvements for the activity center and secured all necessary land development approvals.

The new $5.5 million center opened to students and faculty in March 2018.

Malvern Preparatory School

Duffy Arts Center

Malvern Borough, Chester County, PA

Malvern Preparatory School Duffy Arts Center

Malvern Preparatory School wanted to continue its tradition of providing a caring environment focused on academics while also providing a balance between spirituality, arts, athletics, and activities with an Arts Center on its campus.

Nave Newell worked with the school’s architect to provide surveying, civil engineering, permitting applications, and zoning relief for the new Arts Center. The nearly 100-acre site required several variances for zoning relief including height, the distance between the buildings, and setbacks from the internal street. Nave Newell obtained approvals to permit the Duffy Arts Center to be constructed and prepared the Preliminary/Final Land Development plans required to construct the facility. The resulting Center included an impressive proscenium theater in a multi-disciplinary art center for 2D and 3D art, photography, music, and theater. 

William Penn Charter School

David L. Kurtz Center for Performing Arts

City of Philadelphia, PA

William Penn Charter School David L. Kurtz Center for Performing Arts

The William Penn Charter School placed a high priority to raise funds to build a new performing arts center with a green building component. The resulting LEED Gold Certified performing arts center includes a 650-seat theatre, a band and choral room, several offices, and a storage area. 

Nave Newell worked with the architect on the development of preliminary and final design for the new facility. Nave Newell participated in collaborative meetings with the architect, Penn Charter and neighbors to develop an acceptable building program for all parties.

Looking for direction on your next campus project?

Contact our planners and civil engineers to get started.

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