Mercersburg Academy Burgin Center for the Arts

  • Client
    Mercersburg Academy; JFW
  • Location
    Mercersburg, PA
  • Size
  • AIA Central Pennsylvania Honor Award
  • AIA New York State Merit Award
  • National School Boards Association Awards Citation
  • Gold Award

Project Brief

A private preparatory school in south-central Pennsylvania, Mercersburg Academy needed a performing arts center that matched the star power of its prominent alumni — like Oscar winners Jimmy Stewart and Benicio del Toro.

Built in the 1950s, the existing arts facility not only lacked adequate space to complement theater performances, but also the ability to accommodate a sophisticated performing arts program. Determined to incorporate performing arts into its core curriculum, Mercersburg Academy enlisted a world-famous architect to design — and selected our DAVIS team to construct — a world-class facility.

Top Marks

The new performing arts center quickly became — and remains — a symbol of pride for the Mercersburg community. The facility includes a 600-seat theater, a 120-seat studio theater, recital and choral halls, theater support spaces, along with art and dance studios. Variable acoustics and advanced theater teaching technologies were also implemented — creating an environment comparable to the glory of Broadway.

A Glowing Performance

This project earned a standing ovation, not just for our team, but also for legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman and members of the New York City Ballet who graced the stage to mark the building’s grand opening. During the event, the artists and their performances were not the only things that dazzled — the building, with its wrap-around floor-to-ceiling curtainwall and luminescent glow — lit up the campus.

From our Partners

This project was remarkable. We were particularly impressed by the way DAVIS worked on an occupied campus. They kept the team and the site organized; they were courteous and respectful of our campus environment.

Debbie Rutherford, Previous Associate Head of Mercersburg Academy

Pieces of Pennsylvania Take Center Stage

The Washington metropolitan area has always been our home base and primary stomping ground, but this project took us 90 miles outside of our territory — to a rural part of Pennsylvania. The physical distance posed some unique challenges and ultimately led to our project superintendent moving to Mercersburg during the construction period. Meanwhile, the area proved to have its benefits with regard to local resources. The architect designed the building to incorporate local and natural materials like Pennsylvania limestone, wood, zinc, and copper. These elements are visible in the striking finish of the building.

Photos by Maxwell MacKenzie