The Mercersburg Academy Burgin Center for the Arts

The Burgin Center for the Arts is located on the main quadrangle of this private preparatory school in rural Pennsylvania, two hours north of Washington, DC. The 65,500 sf building complements the scale of the campus and its buildings: integration into its sloped site serves to lower its above-grade profile. Natural materials 150; wood and Pennsylvania limestone 150; reinforce the building146;s connection with the sylvan landscape on four sides. The floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall of the outer lobby and circulation envelope of the building blurs distinctions between indoor and outdoor spaces. From the outside, this space appears luminous at night. The facility146;s program includes a 600-seat theater, a 120-seat studio theater, recital and chorale halls, theater support spaces, and art and dance studios. Variable acoustics and advanced theater teaching technologies support the Academy146;s goal to incorporate the performing arts into its core curriculum. Designed as a flexible and sophisticated tool for teaching the performing and visual arts and encouraging cross-disciplinary exploration, the building is intended to transform the school, encouraging all students to explore their creativity, helping to attract and retain outstanding artist-teachers, attracting exceptional performances by traveling artists, and providing a community gathering place that will make a lasting impression of the school146;s commitment to the performing and visual arts. As a venue for young performers, the theater has been designed to create a sense of intimacy between the performing artists and the audience. Speakers on stage feel embraced by the crowd, while the audience is absorbed into the action on stage. Woodwork in the auditorium is stained sycamore veneer paneling, with darker tones visible at the reveals between panels. Balcony fronts defining the interior volume are sycamore with sconce accent lights illuminating nickel-silver panels and a nickel-silver top rail. The proscenium is sycamore with nickel-silver accent trim, as are the 147;tormentor148; panels large sliding panels which adjust the width of the proscenium opening for different performance needs. Curtain pockets at the perimeter of the room are sycamore with nickel-silver accents. The visual and performing arts have long played a major role in the Mercersburg Academy146;s curriculum and campus life, but the academic program had far outstripped the development of appropriate facilities both in quantity and quality. The Burgin Center brings the two into line. In drawing together spaces for teaching the arts, the facility is intended to reinforce students146; appreciation of the arts and to expand their understanding of the critical role the arts play in one146;s life. Variable acoustics and advanced theater teaching technologies lend flexibility.


Project Type


Mercersburg, 17236,