Category Archives: INSTITUTIONAL

Featured institutional projects

Single Sisters’ House Museum

Artefact is currently designing a museum that will illustrate the life of women from the Lehigh Valley. This museum will be housed in the Single Sisters’ House in historic downtown Bethlehem.

The project follows the guidelines of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards. The preservation design also follows guidelines for greening historic structures.

The program includes exhibition spaces, assembly space (the Saal) and an information kiosk. The major alterations to be performed in the building are the installation of an elevator and ADA restrooms.

Touchstone Theater

This abandoned historic firehouse in South Bethlehem was resurrected as a 72-seat community theater. The low budget renovation could not restore the original elegance of the 1876 building, but it creatively adapted the firehouse into a theater with the removal of a section of the first floor level and the construction of a double height dramatic space for performances. A rehearsal space stacks above the theater space and a two story lobby connects the two floor levels.

Some years after the renovation of the firehouse, Touchstone acquired the adjacent house and renovated it, creating an integrated facility that includes the theater, new wing space, a two story lobby, two rehearsal spaces, a suite of offices, café, workshop, and storage. The conjoining of the buildings created many structural and organizational challenges, but the result was a welcoming, historically sensitive, logically organized home for Touchstone.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

St. Peter’s Church, designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead, and White in 1887 is an important example of early Gothic revival architecture and one of only a few churches designed by the firm. The tower is of particular interest because concrete was used in place of rubble stone for the interior portion of the wall. This composite construction system innovation illustrates the transition between solid stone construction and present day stone veneer construction, but also contributed to water problems seen in the tower.

A preservation plan was completed in February 2011 for the exterior envelope of St. Peter’s Church with a special emphasis on the investigation of the church tower. The preservation plan was largely funded by a grant from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund (MCHPT) and it identifies approximately 36 items that require preservation actions.

Presently, construction documents for Phase 1 of the restoration are being completed. This phase includes roof replacement, installation of through wall flashing and repointing of masonry of the church tower and turret. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring.


Fox Environmental Education Center at Illick’s Mill

Artefact’s interests in historic preservation, sustainable architecture, and community projects came together in this collaborative project to restore and renovate a mid-nineteenth century grist mill on the Monocacy Creek. Planning and fund-raising for the project was carried out by a special student program at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, PA. After the successful completion of the renovations, Illick’s Mill Partnership named the center the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Education Center in honor of a memorable local environmental activist.



The overriding design consideration for the mill was to preserve the character of the historic structure while giving it a new function. The new uses allowed for the preservation of the open quality of the interior space, while discretely accommodating code and accessibility requirements. The center includes a science center in the lowest level, exhibition space on the main level, flexible space for teaching and events on the second floor, and a staff area on the upper mezzanine. An addition is planned for the future and will honor the existing building in proportion and in the choice of stone and timber framing. Transparent glass walls in the addition will reflect the changing use of the mill and satisfy the programmatic need for a nature observation room and bird sanctuary.

Environmental Education Center for the Wildlands Conservancy

The 3,100 square foot education center was designed along sustainable principles to save energy and conserve water and building materials. The green roof is covered with soil and planted with low-maintenance plants.  This feature reduces rainwater run-off and lowers the cost of heating and cooling by providing insulation.



The interior space is divided by a central hallway into classroom space and administrative office space. Folding partitions in the classroom area allow it to function as three separate rooms or one large group space. The administrative area includes a common space with several work stations and file cabinets, a private office, a room for office equipment and supplies, and a kitchen. The lobby and corridor are designed with space for various displays. A large covered front porch functions both as an outdoor classroom and as a staging area for educational forays into the conservancy grounds

Northampton County Courthouse

In the fall of 2009, the County of Northampton received an Energy Efficient Community Block Grant of approximately $2,000,000. The County allocated the entire amount to the renovation and restoration of the Historic Northampton Courthouse, the oldest portion of the County Governmental Center.

The original proposal called for the replacement of all 163 windows, including the monumental windows, roof repairs, gutter and downspouts repairs, and various façade repairs. Artefact’s response proposed that it might not be necessary to replace all the windows and that a closer inspection might reveal that a simple restoration of the windows would produce comparable energy savings to the savings produced by replacing the windows.

As a result of a three day lift inspection as well as an individual evaluation, the final proposal included the restoration of all the paint and glazing compounds of the monumental windows. In addition, aluminum interior storm windows were installed to improve the overall energy efficiency of the assembly. All other windows were retrofitted with new double pane 1/2 inch insulated glass.

In addition to the window work, Artefact proposed a new energy-efficient roof and gutter system. As part of the overall analysis, Artefact worked with a Paint Analysis Specialist to research the original colors of the building.

You can read more about the project in Architect Magazine.