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Spillman Farmer Architects of Bethlehem recently received a prestigious award for the innovative Musical Path at Karl Stirner Arts Trail in Easton, a project that closely involved Lafayette College.

Conceived by the Karl Stirner Arts Trail board to create a town-gown project benefiting the Easton community, the project was advanced by Lafayette students, faculty, and city employees who worked together over several semesters to design the musical playground on the 2.4-mile trail along Bushkill Creek.

Dedicated in May, the Musical Path includes six sets of chimes, arranged in half circles, four of which allow visitors to make up their own tunes. Another set plays Beethoven’s Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor, “Für Elise,” when a stick is dragged over it. Another plays “Fir Easton,” a song composed by Johnny Gossick ’18, which rearranges the notes of “Für Elise.”

Benjamin Cohen, associate professor of engineering studies, and a group of seniors in the 2015 engineering studies capstone course engaged in a feasibility study for the project, producing concept designs and cost estimates. Cohen and multidisciplinary students in his 2016 Sustainable Solutions course then solidified the full design, further developed the project budget and goals, and engaged industry professionals to make their vision a reality. During the process, students presented their project concept to iPrize Challenge, a Lafayette initiative that supports innovation, and won a grand prize of $2,000, which they donated to the KSAT board.

“The development of the Musical Path was an exceptional opportunity to pool the resources of the community and create a truly unique project that serves everyone from 3-year-olds to septuagenarian curiosity-seekers,” says Jim Toia, chair of the arts trail board and director of the Lafayette art department’s community-based teaching program.

“Lafayette students, high schoolers, and citizens of Easton all had an opportunity to explore possibilities,” he says. “After many meetings and consultations, the Lafayette students came up with a great plan and then worked with the professionals at Spillman Farmer and within the City of Easton’s Public Works department to help them realize this truly unique project.”

Spillman Farmer Architects of Bethlehem received an Award of Merit for its design of the Musical Path at the recent Eastern Pennsylvania Design Awards presented by the American Institute of Architects.

The jury recognized the importance of students, faculty, community, and professionals coming together to create a remarkable outcome. 

“This creation of space and ability to interact with the pieces elevates this beyond sculpture, but still results in a beautiful and thoughtful addition to the park’s landscape,” said Casey Boss, associate director of planning, design, and construction at University of Pennsylvania, who represented the jury. 

“This project demonstrates the potential of multidisciplinary design,” he said.

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  1. Linda says:

    My grandchildren and I love this walking trail and the musical section is a highlight of our walks every time.

  2. James A Flowers 1969 BSEE says:

    I look forward to visiting Easton where I was born and grew up until I moved to Omaha Nebraska in 1981.

  3. John Rehm '73 says:

    A video of one of the chimes being played would be a fun piece. How about, “Fur Lise”?

  4. Michael M. Maslyn 70 says:

    Bravo ! A good musical design !

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