Visual + Performing Arts CenterSeton Hill University

Following a national invited competition, designLAB architects was selected by Seton Hill University to design the institution’s new Visual + Performing Arts Center in Greensburg, PA. Channeling the Pittsburgh area’s industrial heritage, designLAB conceived the steel frame and metal clad building as a “factory for the arts.” The four-level facility consists of a full complement of studio spaces for traditional disciplines like painting and drawing, along with tech-heavy digital and graphic arts, and fabrication spaces.

The building was designed in close collaboration with university faculty to support their academic programs and pedagogy. The building is divided into two main sections: a three-story section that houses the traditional “studio arts” (painting, drawing, graphic design), and a one-story space surrounding the Art Yard that houses the “dirty arts” (ceramics, sculpture, wood). A central staircase at the intersection of the two halves of the building provides views into and out of all of the primary creative spaces. The building is designed to be as much as a collaborative tool as an educational space, with common areas at each level that include cafe-style seating, formal and informal display spaces, and digital infrastructure to support collaboration between students and faculty across disciplines.

The new building is an economic catalyst for the city’s cultural district, drawing local artists, gallery observers, and performing arts attendees to support and critique student work. The composition of the Seton Hill Arts Center is contemporary, yet crafted using common materials often found in the region’s industrial buildings. This approach results in an arts center that is built like a low-cost warehouse, but performs like a dynamic cultural and community amenity.


Associate Architects: BSHM Architects