Newly completed buildings point to Seton Hill’s growth trend
There’s a different look at Seton Hill University, where two facilities will expand the school’s footprint by 15 percent for the start of the fall semester Tuesday.
Workers and faculty at the private Catholic university scurried about last week to finish last-minute work and move-in chores at the new JoAnne Woodyard Boyle Health Sciences Center on its main campus and the Dance and Visual Arts Center in downtown Greensburg.
The $15 million Dance and Visual Arts Center, housed in a modern glass and aluminum sheet building designed to pay homage to the region’s industrial heritage, will bring together the university’s varied art and art therapy programs under one roof for the first time in a facility that includes three dance studios for the growing dance program.
Officials said the $23 million Boyle Health Sciences Center, named for the school’s late president, JoAnne Woodyard Boyle, reflects the growing impact of health sciences at the school that shares part of its campus with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The 52,000-square-foot, four-story red brick science center that features a soaring glass atrium will be home to Seton Hill’s physician assistant program, as well as its chemistry, biology, exercise physiology and dietary programs.
An additional $4 million for the renovation and walkways that connect Lynch Hall, the science building, to the new building boosted the project cost to $27 million.
The state-of-the-art biology and chemistry labs on the second floor will allow participation in research. And a human cadaver lab in the basement, with facilities for four cadavers, will give anatomy and physiology students an opportunity to understand the workings of the human body.
Dr. Jim France, director of the physician assistant program, said the high-tech classrooms and labs were designed to take advantage of the latest technology for students in the sought-after, five-year program. Between 800 and 900 applicants compete every year for one of 41 seats in the program, which marked its first graduation in 2000.
“This is the first time the entire PA program will be all together. In the past, it was scattered all across campus,” France said.
The public can get its first look inside the 50,000-square-foot Dance and Visual Arts Center, which will house student and faculty art shows, as well as dance performances, at its opening Sept. 24 with a faculty art show in the first-floor gallery.
The move to locate the facility along West Otterman Street rather than on the hilltop campus follows the opening of the Seton Hill Performing Arts Center in the downtown several years earlier.
Associate Professor Pati Beachley, art program director, said the visual arts and dance facility was designed to reflect the region’s industrial past and to create a blank space for art.
“We really wanted to invite the public in. It’s a building you almost have to see from the inside out,” Beachley said as she led a tour through the facility. It features an outdoor ground floor work area, studios for wood and metal arts and sculpture, a graphic arts studio, a foundry and a dark room for photography. Bright northern light filters through skylights in the third-floor painting and drawing studios.
Three dance studios — two have windows facing city streets — round out the facility. They will house the university’s growing dance program as well as its community dance program.
Professor Curt Scheib, director of the Division of Art, describes it as “the marriage of art and movement.”
While some have questioned the design that differs dramatically from its surroundings, Scheib sees it as perfect.
“I think people will really come to love and appreciate it,” he said.
Scheib said the opening of the Dance and Visual Arts Center, coupled with the reopening of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in October, reflects a deep appreciation for art in the community. Community and university leaders hope the two facilities, coupled with the Palace Theatre and the Seton Hill Performing Arts Center, will establish an arts corridor in the city.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or [email protected].