Bethlehem Visitor Center, Bethlehem, Pa.
Roofing contractor: Kraus Commercial Roofing Inc., Ottsville, Pa.
Architect: USA Architects & Planners, Easton, Pa.
Construction management: Boyle Construction Management, Allentown, Pa.
General contractor: Lobar Inc., Emmaus, Pa.
Metal roof manufacturer: ATAS International Inc., Allentown
The design team specified 1 1/2-inch Field-Lok standing-seam panels for the visitor center. The 24-gauge, 16 1/2-inch-wide aluminum/zinc alloy-coated steel panels feature a Kynar 500 PVDF finish.
Located in the shadow of towering blast furnaces, the Bethlehem Visitor Center was built in 1863 as Bethlehem Steel’s stock house. It stored the coal, iron ore and limestone used to fuel the iron foundry’s blast furnaces. As iron gave way to steel production, the stock house became Bethlehem Steel’s Alloy & Tool Division until the division was shuttered in the 1970s. Then the stock house stored parts for blast-furnace maintenance until Bethlehem Steel closed in 1997.
Today, the transformed visitor center connects the site’s current use as an arts and entertainment venue, featuring an outdoor music pavilion, a newly constructed performing-arts center, and a public television station and studio, with its industrial past. “We decided we’d take the oldest building on the site and not only rehabilitate it, but actually restore it,” explains Tony Hanna, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the city of Bethlehem, owners and developers of several projects on the site. “We spent a rather significant amount of money—$5.5 million—to do a meticulous restoration and actual recreation of what the [stock house] looked like in 1863.”
The 10,883-square-foot meticulously restored stock house, now visitor center, consists of exhibits and multimedia displays that share Bethlehem Steel’s and Lehigh Valley’s history, as well as offices for the site’s performing-arts center and 50 public restrooms.
Before Photo: USA Architects & Planners
After Photo: Penchick Photography
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