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Exterior of the performing arts center at Garrett College, showcasing modern architecture at nightfall with subtle lighting
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Garrett College Performing Arts Center Recognized by AIA

(WHEATON, Md., October 19, 2023) – DLR Group and Garrett College have been recognized for excellence in design for the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College.

A theater stage with a grand piano and blue lighting, set against a backdrop of red seats in a dimly lit auditorium.

The Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded the project an Honor Award in Institutional Architecture as a part of their 2023 Excellence in Design Awards. The award was announced October 19th 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. “In addition, for being an adaptive reuse project and for site planning strategies. The new building form planning completes the receiving/arrival courtyard space. 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.”

Lobo continued, “For its contribution to expand the cultural exposure, providing a place of gathering, consideration of building upon existing facilities (re-use) and incorporating sustainable solutions, the jury felt this project is deserving of an Honor Award.”

“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.”

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 provide 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. We worked together to ensure that the design aligned with their vision for the facility which was key to the design success,” said Smith.

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, noting that the design links the campus with the community and reflects the surrounding natural beauty of Garrett County in the material palette. The theater also reuses the exterior walls of an existing gymnasium, reducing the amount of new materials used in the project 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 team.”

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 Senior Principal and Brand Communications Manager andy ernsting
For media queries, please contact: Andy Ernsting, Brand Communications Leader

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