The Design Buildings Renovation Project

The Design Buildings Renovation Project

Help us embark on an exciting new project! With your support, we will renovate the student-built Design, Sculpture, and Painting Buildings into arts spaces to be shared by the college and the community.

The first step is to develop a plan: We recently received a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) to bring architect David Sellers back to campus, to develop a plan for the buildings’ long-term health and sustainability. Since he and John Mallery led the Goddard Design and Construction Program between 1969 and 1977, Sellers has built an impressive resume as a teacher and architect, including serving as lead architect for the renovation of the iconic Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. The NTHP grant, along with grants from the Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Walter Cerf Community Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, represent an important vote of confidence in our project, and offer recognition of the architectural importance of these special buildings.

This new initiative dovetails several goals articulated by former Goddard President Barbara Vacarr:

Second step: Revision: Improvisational at their core, these three buildings are first-rate studio, performance, and gallery spaces: bright, spacious, and inspiring. Built between 1969 and 1972, they remain in remarkably good condition. After a three- to five-year renovation process, local artists will share space, resources, and a common purpose with the Goddard community. Possible outcomes include the capacity to:

Help us match the NTHP grant and ensure the stability of the buildings, by donating now. We have heard from many alumni and architectural preservation advocates how important it is to save these buildings and bring them back into use. With your help, we are committed to doing just that!


If you can volunteer your services, have questions or stories to share, or wish to suggest someone we should contact about this project, call Gerard Holmes at 802.322.1767 or email him at

This project has been funded in part by grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Daniel K. Thorne Intervention Fund, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Walter Cerf Community Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation.

About Goddard’s Design-Build Spaces

Faculty and students in the groundbreaking Goddard Design Program built five experimental structures on the Plainfield campus between 1971 and 1977. Three of the buildings survive: The Design, Painting and Sculpture Buildings. The Design Program, in its short life, was the first home of Design-Build, a local architectural movement that influenced architectural programs across the United States and beyond. The Design Program attracted, and produced, architects seeking hands-on, collaborative building experience, and builders seeking a thorough understanding of design principles.

The College is currently preparing plans to renovate the buildings and has received several small grants to support this effort. When renovated, the buildings will serve as the hub of a multi-use arts center. This will address a recognized lack of dedicated studio, gallery and performance space in central Vermont. It will also create something truly rare: shared space for college and community art projects. Students and conference participants will rub shoulders with local artists and community members. A group of college staff and community members are meeting regularly to build a project plan.

Today, local artists are working in the Sculpture Building and a respected theater group, Shakespeare in the Hills, will use the Design Center for its youth summer camp.