About the Architecture

FAPACAward-Winning Architects

The John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center was designed by Gund Partnership, an award-winning professional practice located in Cambridge, Mass., that provides services in architecture, planning and interior design. Founded in 1971, Gund Partnership has been honored with more than 100 national and regional awards for design excellence and has received wide critical acclaim and professional recognition for its work.

The design for the 122,000-square-foot facility was a result of Gund Partnership's bold interpretation of the grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains. Partnership staff visited the Joyce Kilmer National Forest and were inspired by the spiritual and cultural home of the Cherokee. The architect's profound experience of Western North Carolina's regional history, diverse mountain culture and vernacular local architecture led to Gund's design.





Interior of Fine Art Museum LobbyCherokee Influence

Situated in the lush and temperate Cullowhee Valley, the site of several early Cherokee settlements, the Fine and Performing Arts Center features numerous Cherokee-inspired design elements. In the main atrium, the tile floor design of a seven-pointed star represents the seven Cherokee clans. Bilingual signage throughout the facility uses English and the Cherokee syllabary, developed in 1809 by Sequoyah to give his people their first written language.