Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Once a focal point of the Village of Bryn Mawr, The Seville Theater, which first opened in 1926, suffered a steady decline in the late decades of the 20th century. In 2002, however, a grassroots campaign emerged to block the theater’s conversion into a fitness center. This campaign led to the formation of The Bryn Mawr Film Institute, charged with a mission to purchase and restore the Seville into a motion picture venue and film education center.

From the beginning, VMA was brought in to create a sequenced plan for the building’s renovation, restoration, and expansion. VMA created a three-phase plan which systematically addressed the vision. VMA was also called on to help secure the theater’s recognition on the National Register of Historic Places and to assist with grant applications. 

In its first phase, the theater re-established its presence and momentum with a new marquee, cafe, and refreshed finishes. The second phase then made the entire complex usable to the Institute, by restoring the dramatic entrance arcade, installing an elevator, and renovating the second floor as office space. The final phase refurbished the two existing theaters, constructed an addition with two new screening rooms, and installed digital projection systems. The ten-year project transformed the once neglected venue into a vibrant film institute able to engage and educate the local community and its ever-increasing membership base.


Preservation Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards, Initiative Award - Stewardship, 2016
Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Grand Jury Award, 2009
Historical Commission of Lower Merion Township, Lower Merion Township Historic Preservation Award, 2007


  • “BMFI Enters Final Phase of its Restoration and Renovation Project” by Cheryl Allison. Main Line Media News, 1 July 2010.
read moreclose


Size: 23,000 sf
Budget: $10 million


Architecture, Interior Design, Historical Preservation, Planning

Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Return to All  |  Next Project