Western Carolina University

Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center

An immersive arts experience.

As one of the first new arts centers to be built in this region of North Carolina, WCU knew it could serve more than just its academic arts programs. It was important for the University to engage the larger vibrant arts communities in the Appalachian region to understand how the center could support them too. The result is an arts center that blends traditional academic spaces with spaces for local artists, musicians, theatre groups, creative writers, folk artists and craft persons to work and showcase their talents. Designing to a strict public university budget, every space is ultimately flexible, with enduring, simple materials of quality.


Seating for 1,000 patrons.

The Arts Center houses performance facilities for music and theater students including a 1000-seat theatre, a 250-seat music rehearsal space, practice and ensemble rooms and a dance studio.


Visual arts on full display.

This facility is also home to the University’s art department, with permanent and traveling exhibition galleries. Studio space, galleries and faculty offices all provide glimpses of artists at work. Studios support painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, print-making and graphic design.


Designed to celebrate the regional character.

The Center has a distinctive traditional architectural flavor, with brick masonry complementing the other buildings on campus. Architectural elements and the building form give the impression of branching and soaring lines blending in with the majestic mountains in the background. Floor patterns in the lobby and stenciling on the walls in the auditorium reflect the rich local Cherokee heritage.

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274 Graham Gund Partners 2018 04 10 Gene 82 U8