From the moment its doors opened for fall 2014 classes, students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike have taken delight in UMBC’s new Performing Arts and Humanities Building (PAHB), which offers exceptional venues for performances and lectures, settings for teaching and research, and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.
“It’s an inviting space,” said Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “It’s a space for every student on campus to experience the performing arts and humanities, for our entire campus community to come together around cultural events, and for people throughout greater Baltimore to participate in UMBC’s vibrant cultural life.”
The PAHB provides new, state-of-the-art facilities for arts and humanities departments and programs. The building is designed to enhance UMBC’s teaching, research, and public outreach, and to heighten the visibility of the arts and humanities as major components of campus and community life.
“This new building, the largest on our campus, speaks to the central role that the arts and humanities play in shaping our students as thinkers and as citizens,” noted President Freeman Hrabowski. “It is designed to foster interaction and collaboration, and it supports the kind of interdisciplinary work that inspires our students and helps them develop as innovators and leaders.”
The PAHB is home to the departments of Ancient Studies, Dance, English, Music, Philosophy, and Theatre; the James T. and Virginia M. Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts; the Humanities Scholars Program; and the Linehan Artist Scholars Program. Its major public venues, which host dozens of lectures and performances annually, include the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall, a proscenium theatre, the Dance Cube, a black box theatre, the Music Box, and a lecture hall.
The 180,000 square foot building, first envisioned in 2004, is situated on 4.8 acres on the west side of Hilltop Road adjacent to the Fine Arts, Engineering, and ITE buildings. The PAHB is a natural extension of the campus to the north, creating a strong relationship with neighboring buildings and enhancing the circulation of the campus.
In fall 2014, the PAHB received two significant accolades from the architecture and design community. The American Institute of Architects Baltimore chapter, at its annual Excellence in Design gala, awarded the PAHB the top prize in its Higher Education category, and the Urban Land Institute bestowed upon the building its 2014 Wavemaker Award, which recognizes projects that are truly unique, innovative, and visionary.
“The Performing Arts and Humanities Building,” said The Baltimore Sun’s fine arts critic, Tim Smith, “makes quite a statement from almost every angle — the sun-reflecting, stainless-steel-wrapped Concert Hall; the glass-enclosed Dance Cube jutting from the structure; views of the downtown Baltimore skyline from upper floors.”
The PAHB is a “very energy efficient building,” notes campus architect Joe Rexing, citing features such as its white reflective roof and water management system. “Inside the building, finishes and materials were selected for their low VOC (volatile organic compounds), so they don’t off-gas — materials such as latex paints, carpets that are very green, and sustainable products made of recycled materials. We use certified wood that comes from sustainable forests. And a lot of other finishes that you see inside the building are made from recycled construction materials.”
The building has been awarded LEED Gold status, following the guidelines set out by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to identify buildings as “green.” LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized mark of achievement in building specifications. Permanent flat screen displays located in the building’s lobbies offer more detail on the PAHB’s sustainable features and LEED certification.