Washington College Gibson Center for the Arts

Chestertown, MD

440-seat proscenium theater, 175-seat experimental theater, 200-seat recital hall
Music and drama rehearsal rooms, practice rooms, green room, art gallery
Offices, scene shop, loading dock
Site design to enhance dialogue with Martha Washington Square and provide outdoor performance space
Washington College
Feasibility Study, Programming, Fundraising Materials, Cost Estimating, Sustainable Design, Full Design Services, Construction Administration

The expanded and renovated Gibson Performing Arts Center puts the arts “on stage” and engages the larger campus community in the arts.


Originally stoic and inward-looking, the existing Gibson Center did little to reveal the performing arts to the Washington College campus and was a looming presence on the College’s main academic square. Inside, the Music and Drama Departments shared overcrowded facilities that were inadequate to fulfill their missions.

The new Gibson Center is a campus anchor. The college desired a modern, progressive design to draw people in, while respecting the character of the surrounding campus and integrating with the various styles of the other buildings constructed on or near the square in the 60s, 70s, and 90s. The design intent was not only to make a statement, but to give a physical identity to the academic departments housed within the center.

The transparent entry façade invites onlookers and encourages interaction, while the translucent recital hall serves as a visual beacon during evening performances. New exterior gathering areas and amphitheater-like steps enliven the square and offer a setting for impromptu practice and performance.

What Our Clients Say

“By drawing every student in to encounter and enjoy drama, music, and visual art, the GWWO design will return the arts to their rightful place: at the heart of the Washington College experience.”

—Baird Tipson, retired President, Washington College

The interior features state-of-the-art teaching and performance spaces. Like the melody in a musical composition or the plot of a play, an undulating Theme Wall organizes the key interior spaces and provides a method of harmoniously merging disparate program elements into a cohesive whole. The Music and Drama Departments each retain their own unique features, yet are united in their focus on the arts.


Kent County Maryland Best Institutional Design Award