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Lafayette’s Williams Visual Arts Building will be honored with the Adaptive Reuse Award from the Easton Heritage Alliance, recognizing excellence in improving and reusing a city building.

In addition, the Damiano family, which includes Mark ’74, Christine ’02, Julia ’02, and Marisa ’04, will be recognized with a Restoration Award for work done on their Easton home. The Damianos made significant improvements to their landscaping, rooms, driveway, and landing.

The awards will be presented 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, during the annual meeting of the Easton Heritage Alliance at the Bulls Eye Gallery, 207-225 Church Street (formerly the Lou Reda warehouse). Accepting the Adaptive Reuse Award on behalf of the College will be Ed Kerns, director of the Williams Visual Arts Building and Eugene H. Clapp Professor of Humanities and Art; Joseph Biodo, designer and architect of the Williams Visual Arts Building and subject of a current exhibition at its Grossman Gallery; and William Stank, Lafayette’s assistant director and architect of plant operations.

A reception will be held after the meeting at approximately 8:30 p.m. at Bachmann Publick House, located at the corner of Second and Northampton Streets.

The award recognizes buildings that have undergone major restorations/renovations to serve a purpose that differs from the facility’s original function.

This marks the second time in four years that Lafayette has been honored by the Easton Heritage Alliance, which gave its Founder’s Award “in recognition and appreciation of the thorough restoration and modernization of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, transforming one of the nation’s greatest academic buildings into a 21st century center for learning while retaining its unique, historic character and features.”

The 23,500-square-foot Williams Visual Arts Building is one of the leading high-tech facilities for art education and exhibitions in the nation. It includes sculpture and painting studios, a community-based teaching studio, Grossman Gallery, a flexible studio area with movable walls for honors and independent study students, seminar room, conference room, five faculty studios and offices, and a spacious lobby.

The building, which was dedicated in April 2001 in a day-long community celebration of the arts, is home to Lafayette’s studio art program. Located on North Third Street, at the main gateway to the campus, the building underscores Lafayette’s commitment to play a prominent role in the revitalization of downtown Easton. The facility offers local and regional artists and area school students more direct access to one of the College’s premier educational strengths.

Classes, workshops led by renowned artists, and open studio sessions are offered to local high school students and the public. For example, nine Phillipsburg High School students are interacting with professional artists, photographers, and an architect this semester to expand their knowledge of contemporary art in a class instructed by PHS teacher Bob Jiorle and Jim Toia, director of the Williams Visual Arts Building’s community based teaching program. The class is held from 2-3 p.m. each Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

“You can’t imagine what this program does for our kids,” says Jiorle. “Students have the opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art building and are certainly enriched by the teaching. They are learning what it is like to carry out a project from beginning to end. It has been of tremendous value. The students love the program, and I just can’t say enough about it.”

“Once in a while we all get lucky and catch a cultural institution taking an enormous leap forward and landing right. It’s a magical moment,” reported the Philadelphia Inquirer of the building’s dedication.

Easton Heritage Alliance is a private, non-profit, historic preservation corporation that seeks to protect the region’s historic, architectural, cultural, and scenic resources. The group sponsors ongoing educational and public awareness programs, including a Walking Tour of the downtown Easton Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Other activities include the Annual House Tour as well as providing guides for other tours throughout the year.

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