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The Westmoreland Bar Association

The Westmoreland Bar Association

“The Westmoreland Bar Association is among the oldest, continuous professional organizations of lawyers in Pennsylvania. This voluntary association comprises approximately 500 attorneys who practice law primarily in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.” After occupying an early 20th century downtown building, renovated for their use, for nearly 30 years, the WBA realized they needed a different facility that could provide services on one level, provide a meeting room to seat 125 people, remain one block from the county courthouse, and yield a professional image consistent with legal practice in the 21st century. Fortunately, they found a building for sale that could deliver nearly all their needs, but the story is lengthy and complicated.

The initial commission started with a study to explore whether the exterior could be altered to provide the required image while confirming if the interior could be transformed to suit the duality of office and meeting room, daytime and evening uses.

A lengthy iterative study yielded an efficient but logical use of the existing space while providing dynamic views outward of the city. The reception area, an important brand identifying space, is a controlled singular focus upon entry. However, from the reception area, the staff gets a panoptic view of the entry and surrounding offices, giving the receptionist the necessary control for operations. A former parking area was given over to a private outdoor courtyard for Association events. The extensive training room is mutable for large yearly gatherings, weekly education seminars, or smaller training sessions. It’s equipped with a kitchen and bar area to address the hospitality needs for conferences.

Colors and rich materials are distributed frugally to provide visual cues to the divisions of public and private, daytime and evening uses, servant and served spaces. The architect was given latitude to break from stereotypes of legal offices to search for a gesture that offers a timeless but future-leaning image that will profit the board for the next three decades (or more).

Owner: The Westmoreland Bar Association
Project Size: 4,450 square foot office interiors / exterior alterations
Completed: 02/2021
MEP Engineering Consultant: AJC Professional Services
Structural Engineering Consultant: Anderson Structural Inc.
Contractor: ArTECH Group LLC
Photographer: Skysight Photography
Signage: Blue Sky Sign Company