Embrace the Past: the History of PCAC
The Architecture of PCAC
The building design for the new arts center was awarded to the Boston architectural firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott. Jean-Paul Carlhian, who in the same period would design arts centers at Brown and Middlebury as well as a dormitory at Harvard, was the principal architect. His design was in keeping with tastes of the period and is of relatively plain geometric forms arranged in an E-shaped ground plan. There are north and south classroom/studio wings, connected by a central building which houses the theatre-recital hall, the transverse corridor, the gallery and offices (including at that time the office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts). On the west is the Johnson Theater. The main entrance is on College Road. The three departments housed in the building were then known as the “…Music, Speech and Drama, and The Arts…” departments. A few years after the building dedication, the architectural firm that had designed the center completed designs for an expansion and extension of the music wing which was built to match the Arts wing.
In the half century since the opening of PCAC, taste in architectural style has changed. Current architecture is often less linear, less symmetrical and sometimes eclectic, with elements from various styles. The work by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott evolved and changed with the differing tastes. Jean-Paul Carlhian continued to design university buildings, some in the modern style. In the late 1990s, he also designed a major building in Concord, New Hampshire–the Warren B. Rudman Federal courthouse on Pleasant Street. Regardless of the architectural winds, however, PCAC remains the home of the students and faculty who create and explore within its walls, and the audiences who come to share in the creative work.
Research provided by Randall Raymond, UNH alumnus.