Honorable Mention - SCUP Excellence in Architecture for Building Additions, Renovation or Adaptive Reuse

Haverford College

Haverford College VCAM (Visual Culture Arts and Media) Building
Haverford College - Haverford College VCAM (Visual Culture Arts and Media) Building
Jury Comments
“. . . very thoughtful project . . . effective reuse of existing gym into visual arts venue . . . retains existing building character with unique floating elements and reuse of indoor track for circulation . . . attention given to sustainable site designs, protection of existing mature trees, and planting of new trees to enhance campus arboretum is terrific . . .”


    • Site – 1 acre; Building – 25,000 sq ft
    • All primary program spaces open onto and animate the heart of the building.
    • The VCAM facility evolved in response to a cross-disciplinary mission grounded in visual culture.
    • The historic running track provides circulation and casual learning space.
    • The project reestablishes critical campus walkway links
    • Gym flooring is repurposed into decorative ceilings.
    • Wood from a campus tree became stair treads and tabletops.
    • Material reuse promotes a spirit of making and memory.
    • The project preserved all affected trees and removed an abandoned squash court to create public green space for making, performance, and display.
    • Combined uses alleviated the need for a building addition, thereby preserving funds and creating an opportunity on the master planning level for future campus infill.


The VCAM project repurposes a 1910 gymnasium, which sat largely unused since the construction of a modern recreation building in 2005, into a curricular and co-curricular facility for visual culture, arts, and media. The programming goals for the space are threefold: to bring visual literacy, the arts, and creative design into the interstices of the liberal arts and programming across STEM, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences; to create spaces for the campus to engage with local and Philadelphia communities year round; and to explore technology and innovation with an eye to both social entrepreneurship and critical awareness in legal and scientific venues.

The following principles guided the design:

  • Nexus – Create relationships with adjacent buildings and landscape spaces and a central vertical campus transition point.
  • Collaboration – Foster interaction by creating openness, comfort, visibility, activity, and self-organization.
  • Hub – Create a compelling center from which all activities radiate.
  • Adaptability – Provide a flexible physical environment that gracefully accommodates change.
  • Memory – Collage existing architecture with new architecture.
  • Directness – Use materials, organization, and form in honest, elegant, and intuitive ways.
  • Function – Be maintainable and efficient.
  • Activation – Provide opportunities to attain visual literacy through dynamic spaces.

Project Team

MSR Design; also Nave Newell, Inc.; Keast & Hood Co.; Bruce E. Brooks & Associates; The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company