The John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts

Villanova University | Villanova, Pennsylvania

The John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts is the last in a series of planned projects along Lancaster Avenue. VMA, as architect of record in association with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, led the initial planning behind the district before engaging on the project design. The center meets Villanova University’s need for multiple professional-grade performance venues and support spaces within a single building.

VMA’s design carries the “Villanova Gothic” style that aesthetically unites the new architecture, but reinterprets it for a more contemporary appearance compared to the highly traditional approach of The Commons, an adjacent student housing complex. Masonry panels were produced off-site for more efficient construction, with each stone carefully positioned to be visually cohesive, capped by cast stone accents. Traditional gabled roofs on either end of the building contrast with the gracious curve of the main entrance. 

The 400-seat proscenium theater, with full fly lofts, has an elegantly curved balcony that embraces the stage and its dramatic gold curtain. The 140-seat courtyard theater can accommodate performances in end stage thrust, or arena thanks to flexible seating that can be customized for multiple configurations. The largest rehearsal space doubles as a “performance lab” that can host small audiences for intimate performances. Back of house amenities and educational spaces support all the performing arts. There are dressing rooms, a green room, and well-equipped production shops for scenery and costumes. The third floor features a choral room, dance studio, as well as two general classrooms. Offices on the second and third floors accommodate faculty as well as the production manager, building manager, and department staff.

The generously-sized lobby is supported by a full catering kitchen that will allow the space to host receptions and special events. Full-height windows, overlooking the prominent intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Ithan Avenue, catty-corner to Villanova’s field house and stadium, will glow like a beacon on performance nights. 

In addition, as with other projects in the new district, the design strives to achieve the highest measure of eco-friendly construction. The Mullen Center has achieved LEED Silver Certification.



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Size: 78,000 sf
Budget: $37 million


Architecture, Interior Design, Planning, Landscape, Sustainability

The John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts

Villanova University | Villanova, Pennsylvania

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