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The Cultural Center

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1973–1976, Silling Associates. Capitol Complex, west of the West Virginia State Capitol

The 1971 dedication of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., was an impetus for many state and local governments to provide similar facilities. West Virginia's response was the Cultural Center. As Governor Arch Moore announced when plans were unveiled, it was to be “a West Virginia treasure house” that would contain, in addition to the requisite theater, “a state library, a great hall for exhibits, a section for archives and history, and a large museum.”

All these facilities, and more, are contained in an almost windowless cube of Indiana limestone. A few large expanses of glazing, notably at the entrance, give a modicum of relief. The walls provide no clues to the building's height (which is five stories, more or less), much less its purpose. The Cultural Center is approached via a shallow reflecting pool, across broad sidewalks and shallow steps. Like the earlier Motor Vehicles Building, the design was deliberately kept low key. Governor Moore made a point of this in stating that it would not “rival the Capitol from an architectural standpoint.” Rest assured, it doesn't.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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