Barton Assocs. Inc.: Messiah College, Calvin and Janet High Center for Worship and Performing Arts

Update and renovations to an educational facility.


Parmer Hall Exterior. Courtesy: Barton Assocs. IncEngineering firm: Barton Assocs. Inc.
2014 MEP Giants rank: 99
Project: Messiah College, Calvin & Janet High Center for Worship & Performing Arts
Address: Mechanicsburg, Pa., U.S.
Building type: Educational facility
Project type: other
Engineering services: Automation/controls, electrical/power, fire/life safety, HVAC/mechanical, lighting, energy/sustainability, and plumbing/piping
Project timeline: 10/22/2009 to 1/30/2013
MEP/FP budget: $7,590,150


One of the greatest challenges for the entire design team was the site of the facility. The building was a stand-alone addition to an existing visual and performing arts center and had to be integrated not only in form, but also in function with the existing facility. Boasting 92,000 sq ft of new construction, the High Center connects to Messiah’s existing fine arts center, which benefited from a number of renovations during the process. At the heart of the High Center is Parmer Hall, a 900-seat performing arts space that serves as the main auditorium. A 150-seat recital hall welcomes smaller performances, and a number of faculty spaces and practice rooms, each designed to accommodate different ensembles—instrumental, choral, or chamber music—are used for teaching and rehearsing. Messiah’s former recital hall, located in the old arts center, was transformed into a black box theater. The remaining square footage is dedicated to classroom space, a keyboard lab, and storage. The challenge was that the building needed to be flexible enough to meet the unique acoustic requirements associated with lectures, chamber music, jazz, worship (including congregational singing), a large choir, amplified praise bands, a symphony orchestra, and a symphony with chorus. The team needed to consider the volume of the space, the width, the height, the length, whether or not the floor is raked, how high the stage is, and the overhangs on the balconies, as well making sure air handling systems create minimal, if any, background noise. Unfortunately, this diverse and use-specific acoustic program was further complicated by a heavily used freight rail line literally 100 yards from the building.

Parmer Hall. Courtesy: Barton Assocs. Inc.Solutions

The firm solved this significant challenge through extensive coordination with all stakeholders involved in the project as the solution was multidisciplinary and multiphased. From the building construction (a building within a building) to final punch lists, the firm was integral to successful completion of the project. Every penetration into sound-sensitive spaces was considered and isolated form the outer facility. Barton took great care in locating every opening to the exterior of the building and designed the HVAC systems to avoid any direct means of noise transmission. This included using the resulting heavy concrete structure to serve as duct chases, thereby eliminating air and break-out noises. The firm also selected both mechanical and electrical equipment with noise generating characteristics that were within acceptable tolerances at various frequency bands. All of this took close coordination and constant communication between the firm and the architect, acoustical consultant, theatrical consultant, structural engineer, contractors, and, most importantly, the owner. Everyone was working toward a common goal and acted a united team.

Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me