Bryn Athyn College Offering BFA in Building Arts

The new program launches in the 2018-2019 school year.
By Martha McDonald ,

Bryn Athyn College is now offering the nation’s first BFA in the Building Arts. Located in Bryn Athyn, PA, the liberal arts college has offered a two-year associates program in the Building Arts for a while, and has now decided to add the BFA as well.

“It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that the nation’s first Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) in Building Arts has been approved and will be accepting our first cohort of students for the 2018-19 academic year,” says Stephen Hartley, assistant professor and Head of Building Arts Program. “We will initiate this program with concentrations in metal and glass, with the plan to expand to wood and stone concentrations in the very near future.”

The metals program will include both historical and modern applications of forged and decorative metal work. Students will focus on tool and hardware production, traditional joinery design and production, small-scale design and production, and large-scale design and production.

Students will also learn both historical and modern applications in the glass specialty. The areas of focus will include glass painting, glass design and production, glass dynamics and stained-glass restoration.

Stephen Hartley discusses leaded glass deterioration using a 15th-century French panel. Photo: J. Kenneth Leap

“This is an exciting time for both Bryn Athyn College and the greater world of building arts,” says Hartley. “We’re honored to join to small, but influential group of programs currently existing that are working diligently to train the next generation of building artisans”

He explains that it will be a BFA program under the fine arts major. “The program itself consists primarily of studio time instead of lecture time.”

Instructor Ken Leap demonstrates glass painting. Photo: Bryn Athyn College

Instructors are experts in their fields. For example, Ken Leap is known throughout the glass world for both modern and traditional work. For metals, Warren Holzman, owner of Holzman Iron Studio in Philadelphia, and Mike Rossi, also a known metal worker, will teach the classes.

Hartley explains that there are a number of historic buildings in Bryn Athyn, a cathedral and several major buildings across the street from the college that were designed and constructed under tutelage of Raymond Pitcairn, son of the founder of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. “Our philosophy is empowering craftsmen to build these buildings, a continuation of what was done in the 20s.The community has a strong commitment to the trades and we are expanding it to the college level.”

He adds that some classes are already available, and the BFA program itself will launch in the fall of 2018. For more information, go to https://brynathyn.edu/department/building-arts/, or contact Stephen Hartley at Stephen.hartley@brynathyn.edu, or call 267-502-2779.

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