The Sands Bethlehem Event Center opened to wide acclaim with the rock band Incubus kicking off the entertainment schedule on May 16, followed by the Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Tour on May 17th. Scores of ARendering of the VISION BAR - Sands Bethlehem Event Center -list performers, including Jay Leno, Loretta Lynn, Meatloaf, and Celtic Thunder, are booked throughout the year along with a variety of conferences. Conceptualized and executed by the Vision Entertainment Group, the multi-faceted 50,000 square foot (SF) venue was designed by Howard Kulp Architects, P.C., Allentown, with BIA providing the design of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems, along with civil engineering to create the outdoor patio.
Part of the Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort, a 300-room luxury hotel for which BIA designed the MEP and fire protections systems, as well as all engineering for the pool and fitness center, the Event Center was conceived as a venue for entertainment, conferences, and private functions. All seats, including those in seven private luxury suites, are within 137 feet of the stage. The Vision Bar is an attraction in its own right, featuring modern architecture, hundreds of LED lights, natural textures, opulent finishes, and interactive programming to create an atmosphere like none other in the Lehigh Valley.
BIA’s Joshua Lutton, PE, LEED AP, was the project’s electrical engineer. “We put a lot of thought into the use of the space which influenced both the design and selection of light fixtures,” noted Josh. “We consulted with the architect as well as lighting manufacturer representatives to devise the best solution for the multi-dimensional needs of both live performances and conventions. In addition to plenty of LED technology, we incorporated a flexible programmable dimming system to allow the end users to tailor the space to a variety of events. Our design also echoed various facets of the lighting strategy of the adjacent Sands Casino to inspire continuity between the two buildings.”
Adjacent to the Sands complex is the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, a state-of-the-art 67,000 square foot performance venue that hosts two cinemas plus a year-round calendar of live performances, special events, and festivals. The project, which opened in spring 2011, won statewide recognition recently. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Pennsylvania presented its highest award, the Silver Medal, to Spillman Farmer Architects, Bethlehem, for the design.
AIA jurors praised the project saying, "The design captures the energy and utilitarian beauty that the best of the industrial revolution once offered. At the same time it demonstrates the power that a truly successful marriage of architecture and program can exert in bringing new purpose and hope to the most abandoned parts of our community."
BIA’s Ross Sotak, PE, Structural Engineering Manager for the project notes: “Working on a project that is helping to reinvent a site that is so full of history is extremely rewarding. Every time I go to SteelStacks I stand in awe of both the surrounding historic buildings and the buildings we helped to create. Having had relatives who worked at 'The Steel', as they used to call it, and knowing the history involved, it gives me great pride knowing that we helped to create something that allows others to get up close and experience this unique site.”