News Pac Earns Design Award At Aia Event - Garrett College
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Campus News

October 23rd, 2023

PAC earns design award at AIA event

DLR Group, Garrett College, Fiore honored by Potomac Valley chapter


The Performing Arts Center at Garrett College recently received an Honor Award in Institutional Architecture from the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The PAC, designed by DLR Group with general contractor services provided by Leonard S. Fiore, Inc., opened in October 2022.

Garrett College, DLR Group, and general contractor Leonard S. Fiore, Inc., have been recognized for excellence in design for the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at Garrett College.

The Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded the project an Honor Award in Institutional Architecture as part of their 2023 Excellence in Design Awards. The award was announced last Thursday at the chapter’s annual dinner.

"The jury chose this project to be awarded based on the development team’s longtime effort to bring a cultural facility to the community," noted AIA jury member Jose Lobo. He also lauded the project "for being an adaptive reuse project and for site planning strategies."

Lobo noted that "placing the breakout and pre-function spaces facing the open lawn resulted as a welcoming gesture and enhances anticipation to a main event in the evening."

"I remember how excited we were when DLR Group put in a bid for the PAC project," said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president. "We were so impressed that they specialized in designing performing arts centers. We felt certain they would produce an outstanding design.

"This award confirms that’s exactly what they did," added Midcap.

Midcap also praised Fiore for its work as general contractor.

"The PAC was built during the height of the COVID pandemic," noted Midcap. "I was impressed with Fiore’s commitment to moving this project forward despite extremely challenging circumstances."

Monika Smith, a DLR principal as well as cultural and performing arts design leader, said the PAC project "resonated with us because of its potential to become a catalyst for the community’s arts-related activities."

"We’re always thrilled to work on projects that have meaningful impact for the community," said Smith.

Mary Mateer Cummings, who served as the PAC’s first executive director, said DLR Group emphasized both creativity and flexibility in designing the PAC.

"One of the key elements we discussed from the beginning was that every space had to serve multiple purposes and maximum flexibility," noted Cummings. "DLR Group not only designed a flexible space that accommodates a variety of uses, they also created a space that looks like a place where art should happen."

Smith said the design collaboration, supported by a broad-based architectural design committee of College and community representatives, played a key role in the ultimate design.

"We appreciate that the College and community were engaged with us throughout the design process," said Smith. "We worked together to ensure that the design aligned with their vision for the facility, which was key to the design success."

Smith noted there are certain "key design aspects" AIA juries value.

"Design excellence, sustainable design, and community impact are all important to AIA," said Smith.

"The design links the campus with the community and reflects the surrounding natural beauty of Garrett County in the material palette," continued Smith. "The theatre also reuses the exterior walls of an existing gymnasium, reducing the amount of new materials used as well as demolition landfill waste."

Smith said the $21 million project’s "transformational community impact truly stands out."

"In this particular case, just the fact that the community has been working so long for a performing arts center makes us feel good about the impact of our work," continued Smith. "That was a big motivator for our group."

Garrett College Dean Julie Yoder, who provides administrative oversight for the PAC, said DLR Group "just seemed like the right fit for us."

"This project felt very inclusive," said Yoder. "Our input was sought and valued by DLR Group."

Chris Painter, GC’s director of facilities and capital projects, took over PAC project manager duties last December when former Director Kathy Meagher left the College.

"I have a deeper appreciation for the arts just seeing the end of construction and now what’s actually going on in the PAC," said Painter.

DLR Group is an integrated design firm delivering architecture, engineering, interiors, planning, and building optimization for new construction, renovation, and adaptive reuse.

Leonard S. Fiore, Inc. is a third-generation, family-owned builder with offices in Altoona and State College, PA. Fiore has completed more than $1 billion in construction projects across eight Mid-Atlantic states.