The Fred M. Rogers Center officially opened in Latrobe yesterday with a morning conference on children and electronic media, afternoon tours and an evening dedication and blessing ceremony that was expected to attract almost 600 people.
Located at the entrance to St. Vincent College, the $14-million building tucks into the hillside below St. Vincent Basilica, which is dramatically framed by the soaring windows in the new building's center hall.
The two-story, contemporary building houses the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media, the Fred Rogers Archive (about 300 boxes of scripts, scores and other material documenting his work), the Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery, the college's Conference Center and a mural by Roman Verostko.
The center "keeps Fred alive," said Joanne Rogers, next to an interactive exhibit devoted to her husband's life and work. "He's been alive for me all along mostly because of this. He would be humbled by it."
At a conference earlier in the day, members of the Rogers Center National Advisory Council were briefed by experts on Youth-Created Media in the Digital Age.
"The distinction between a child being a user and consumer [of media] has been obliterated," said Maxwell King, who became director of the center last month. "We want to provide guidance and standards" for children, parents and educators.
The center's mission is to advance the state of early learning and children's media by acting as a catalyst for communication, collaboration and creative change across both fields.
Designed under the direction of Pittsburgh architect Kevin Gannon of FortyEight Architecture, the center is expected to earn a silver or gold LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.