Spillman Farmer Architects completes gateway at historic Bryn Athyn Campus

Bryn Athyn College is a unique institution established to offer a program of higher education in the liberal arts grounded in the teachings of the New Church (also called the General Church of the New Jerusalem). The college’s vision for this project, an addition to an existing academic building, was the creation of a campus living room where current students could gather and visitors could be welcomed into the heart of the community.

The two-story, 31,500 sq ft building is nestled into the natural grade of the landscape and appears, when approached from the west, to be a single storey. The plan is organised in an L shape, with one wing (east) abutting the existing building and the other wing (north) extending out. The primary volumes within the building are the campus Great Room on the first level and the two storey dining room/multipurpose hall on the lower level.

The Great Room is distinguished by heavy timber framing whose structural connections (metal tie and sag rods) are exposed in the Arts and Crafts spirit. A central stone and brick fireplace hearth (a nod to seminal Arts and Craft architect Bernard Maybeck) is flanked by large windows that provide views down into the lower-level dining hall. Here, a second fireplace and wood finishes provide warmth to the expansive multipurpose space. The upper level also supports office and administrative space for the President and Admissions staff while the lower level provides back-of-house and kitchen equipment to serve the building.

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