Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Center for the Arts

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Institution Name: Middlebury College
Original/Historic Place Name: Center for the Arts
Location on Campus: S. Main St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1987-1992original construction Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates
Designer: Hardy Holtzman Pfeiffer Associates (New York)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Postmodern (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Walls: granite, clapboard, zinc tiles
Roof: copper
1992-present (2006)museum (art museum)
1992-present (2006)auditorium (concert hall)
1992-present (2006)theater (studio theater)
1992-present (2006)classrooms
1992-present (2006)academic department building (arts, including dance studios)

One of the most ambitious and mainstream examples of postmodern architecture in Vermont, this building was conceived as a deconstructive collage of juxtaposed forms--a sloping-roofed orthogonal shed intersected by a great circular courtyard and penetrated by performance and music halls, each of which maintains its own identity of shape and materials within and without. It is sheathed-in copper roofs, clapboards, wood shingles, and highly textured gray and pink granite, many of the materials and details referring inclusively to local domestic and institutional vocabularies. Displayed in a multi-level lobby is a comprehensive compendium of designs by the building's architects, Hardy Holtzman Pfeiffer Associates, which draws upon the full range of the first twenty-five years of their practice as perhaps the most innovative and prolific designers of performance spaces in late-twentieth-century America. The collection includes designs for an irregular pentagonal black box theatre, a dance performance hall, an octagonal surround concert hall (the second in the United States, after HHPA's Symphony Hall in Denver), and an art museum. All display the firm's signature collisions of forms, exposed technology, and imaginative use of off-the-shelf details. Part of the flowering of ambitious arts facilities in the later decades of the century, this building stands as something of a jumping off point for a sequence of similarly conceived collegiate arts buildings by this firm across the country. A site piece in the courtyard by Dan Graham, created as a commentary on the forms of the building, is a result of the college's Art in Public Places program. One percent of the cost of all new construction projects is allocated for the acquisition and installation of major works of art around the campus. The collection to date includes works by George Rickey, Jonathan Borofsky, Robert Indiana, Clement Meadmore, Jules Olitski, Scott Burton, Jenny Holzer, and Tony Smith.


Andres, Glenn M. Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates: Concepts and Buildings. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College Museum of Art, 1993.

Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates: Buildings and Projects 1993-1998. New York: Rizzoli, 1999.

Neuman, David J. Building Type Basics for College and University Facilities. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2003.


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Last update: November 2006