Architectural plans for Seton Hill University arts center revealed

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An addition to Seton Hill University's artistic presence in downtown Greensburg is expected to stimulate the city's economy by attracting businesses geared to students and the cultural district.

The university revealed architectural plans for its new Dance and Visual Arts Center Wednesday during a morning meeting with invited guests and faculty members and an evening session for the public.

“It provides another opportunity for the creation of jobs in our region, hopefully new businesses, and definitely increased pedestrian traffic that will add to both the safety and energy of the city,” said Provost and Dean of Faculty Mary Ann Gawelek.

The 46,000-square-foot structure on the corner of West Otterman Street and College Avenue will house art and dance studios, classrooms, design labs, professional and student galleries, office space, a café and gift shop.

The university expects to begin construction in early August and open the center in time for the 2014 fall semester.

Balog, Steines, Hendricks, & Manchester Architects Inc. of Youngstown, Ohio and designLab Architects of Boston collaborated on the building's design.

Robert Miklos of designLab presented a slide show featuring renderings of the building. His firm has designed structures for Lafayette College and Berklee College of Music.

“This is a phenomenal thing: to have this much arts- and community-oriented facilities right in the town of Greensburg,” he said. “I have to compliment Seton Hill, because this is really on the cutting edge of what institutions are doing nationally.”

The loft-style building features metalwork inspired by Otterbein Methodist Church's metal dome, and the city's history as a steel manufacturer.

Miklos described the building in two parts. A three-story section consists of dance studios and facilities for two-dimensional arts, such as painting, drawing and art therapy. The other section will have classrooms for three-dimensional arts, like metals, woodwork and sculpting and an outdoor “artyard” where students can work on projects.

Parts of the building, such as the café, will be open to the public, university officials said.

A shuttle for students will run from campus to the center.

Dance faculty member TaMara Swank said she supports the expansion because the dance program is “growing leaps and bounds.”

“With the larger space, students are going to have more of a true experience of what it will be like once they graduate,” she said.

Steven Gifford, executive director of Greensburg Community Development Corp., said he believes the center will generate business in the downtown. He noted that a couple plan to open a pastry and coffee shop in town and chose Greensburg over Pittsburgh specifically because of Seton Hill's growth and the strength of the cultural district. Another businessman plans to open a running equipment store in Greensburg to accommodate student athletes.

Desiree DeClaudio, 20, a junior communications and journalism major at Seton Hill, said she uses the Performing Arts Center even though she does not study art and is excited to see yet another addition to the university.

“Students will have another space to call their own,” she said. “Growth is always good.”

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or

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