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Home > Hodel Center Recognized by Town's Architectural Board

Hodel Center Recognized by Town's Architectural Board

May 27th, 2010

By David Halbrook; pictures by Art Cox

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

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The beautiful Grand Lobby of Patrick Henry College's newest structure, the Barbara Hodel Student Life Center

Last fall, as Earl Hall and work crews raced feverishly against multiple deadlines to ready the new Barbara Hodel Center for the start of classes and, one month later, the building’s ornate dedication ceremony, PHC’s Vice President for Campus Administration paused to appraise the nearly-finished structure.

“What you’re seeing here is a very extensive redesign from what was originally planned,” he said. “The original design was modern and utilitarian. Now it is a very elegant colonial architecture. We’ve really been scrambling to complete what needs to be done prior to the dedication.”

The Town of Purcellville recently awarded the College this certificate of recognition for the "superior architecture and outstanding design" of the Hodel Center

Nine months later, after an entire academic year’s worth of classes, basketball games, lectures, concerts, assorted special events and even wedding receptions have occurred in the 106,000-square-foot campus life center, the building’s full impact on both the College and the Town of Purcellville is coming into focus. Together with numerous community-based activities that now regularly utilize the Hodel Center – everything from small group Bible studies to youth league basketball practices – the Town’s local Board of Architectural Review (BAR) recently nominated the center for the Annual Loudoun County Joint Architectural Review Board Awards.

While it didn’t win the county’s top prize, Lauren Murphy, Purcellville’s senior planner, says the building is nonetheless viewed as an architectural jewel by local officials. The Purcellville Public Safety Center at the corner of Hirst Road and Maple Avenue and Dilzer Eye Care Associates’ redesign at 530 East Main were also nominated in Purcellville’s new construction category.

“We were kind of surprised that (the Hodel Center) didn’t win (Loudoun’s top award) in new construction,” Murphy offered, “but it’s an undeniably beautiful building. When the town’s BAR sat down to review the Hodel Center, we looked at everything else that had been reviewed since we began the process in 2005, and this was the first nomination that jumped on the table. It’s a wonderful example of how new construction can blend in with the existing campus and still have its own personality.”

Purcellville’s architectural review board consists of local architects and former public servants like Walter Voskian, the BAR chairman who formerly served on the town planning commission.

The stately entrance to the Barbara Hodel Center

“The board appreciates buildings designed with the historical context of Purcellville in mind,” Murphy added, “and the Hodel Center’s beautiful historical features certainly complement what already exists at PHC. It shows how you can take a building that could have been utilitarian, and remodel and massage it to make it something truly special.”

The building’s graceful look and classical motif can be traced in large part to leadership by PHC President Dr. Graham Walker, who, with classical architect Daniel Lee, working with Daniel Cook & Associates, set out to address what he sensed were aesthetic shortcomings in the original blueprints. The new vision embodied a restrained visual grandeur he believed the original plans failed to capture.

“The sum of what we’re trying to achieve at Patrick Henry College, about our mission, about the strength and persistence of the institution, and about the nature of the God we serve, comes together in this building,” Dr. Walker offered prior to the Center’s dedication. “We are a college of classical Christian learning trying to revive a tradition that has, at specific times and places in history, mirrored the beauty of God’s creation and His eternal Truth through architecture.”

Noting pragmatic dividends of the Hodel Center’s striking presence on Purcellville’s eastern border, Earl Hall said, “Future development plans for our campus depend on the Town’s favorable view of the College. This unsolicited recognition is evidence thereof.”

In the final analysis, Murphy allows that beautiful buildings like the Hodel Center and the Town’s other architectural highlights bode well for Purcellville’s reputation and long-term future.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “it’s in our interest to recognize buildings that contribute to the community in the best possible way. In recognizing the Hodel Center, our BAR was saying they thought that building was a premier example of new construction.”