In its first two years, Marketview Arts has already established itself as a vibrant, collaborative community arts center. The building, located at 37 West Philadelphia Street in the heart of downtown
York, went through a remarkable transformation after the York County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) purchased it in 2009.
The former Fraternal Order of Eagles building was an underutilized property in a prime location, directly across the street from York’s historic Central Market. Like many older properties, the building had been reconfigured over the years for various uses without the benefit of being updated. The result was a disorienting maze that lacked any sense of orientation or excitement.
The IDA enlisted Murphy & Dittenhafer to make sense of the hodgepodge of existing spaces, features, and structural concerns and find a way to maximize the underutilized property’s potential. Murphy & Dittenhafer solicited input from key stakeholders, including representatives from York College, York’s artist community, and the IDA’s private sector partners. This input informed Murphy & Dittenhafer’s considerations and decisions throughout the $2.8 million project. Funding for the renovation came from the IDA itself, private investors, and a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project grant.
The overarching goal was to create, in a simple, economical way, a facility that would provide
memorable experiences for end users and visitors. Even the smallest details were carefully weighed to maximize their potential to push past the boundary of functionality into a higher level of engagement and excitement.
Today, Marketview Arts has artist studios, classroom areas for York College art students, gallery space, an event space with adjacent restrooms, storage, and catering areas, a storefront that’s home to the westernmost point on the Pennsylvania Arts Experience’s Artist Trail, and two residential apartments.
The diverse, mixed use of the property is supported by functional enhancements, such as an elevator connecting all six levels and making the facility fully handicap accessible and accessible for moving things in and out for programming and events. The renovation also included the addition of an entry at grade and on-site parking.
The inherent challenges of the Marketview Arts project were fully intertwined with the inherent
opportunities. For example, the new entry was constructed right on the property line for the parcel, next to the exit for the neighboring parking structure. Building codes precluded the ability to use any windows or glass in the wall. Murphy & Dittenhafer used the code-required blank wall as an opportunity for visual expression. They contacted Glen-Gery Brick to discuss what types of shapes and colors and finishes of brick they had in their scrap piles. Glen-Gery was inspired enough by the idea to donate all the brick that ended up in the east-facing wall of the entry, which is what passersby see when traveling past the building on Philadelphia Street.
It’s this spirit of creativity and collaboration that earned Marketview Arts the prestigious
Commonwealth Award from 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania. The annual awards recognize “Smart Growth” projects that revitalize communities, spur economic development, catalyze private investment, and serve as models of sustainable development. The recognition goes beyond architectural design and historic preservation, honoring projects that make a significant contribution to the city where they’re located. arketview Arts has not only brought life back to a vacant building, but also repurposed it in way that has made a major contribution to the market district and the downtown arts scene.
Prior to receiving the Commonwealth Award, the project also won a preservation award from Historic York for outstanding adaptive reuse in 2013; a Citation Award for architectural excellence from AIA Central PA in 2012; and the Trostel Award for Historic Preservation from AIA Balitmore for exemplary adaptive reuse. The jury commented that Marketview Arts is “an exemplary project involving the transformation of a vacant historic building to a community use. It is clearly a community-initiated project, rather than one driven by a developer. This project shows the virtue of doing a lot with a little, and the patina of the element of time.”