New arts building to break ground in summer 2018

Students work on individual projects in close proximity to one another in the art studio at the college. The art department expects to get more space with a newly proposed building to be constructed sometime in 2018. Photo by Henry Lubega, The Campus Ledger

Alicia Allison

Staff reporter

The Fine Arts department and the Board of Trustees met with the local architecture firm, BNIM, on March 31 to collaborate on the new fine arts and photography building which will be placed on the eastern side of campus some time in 2018. The building will encompass facilities for the Fine Arts, Photography, Graphic Design and Art History departments.

“I think those programs that will be in the new building have long been needing a new building,” said Jim Lane, Dean of Arts, Design, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “I think it will add to our arts community on the east side of campus and it will be a welcome addition into the Culinary Academy, the Nerman, the Regnier Center, the Carlsen Center; all those areas that already cater to the arts.”

One of the major reasons there will be a new building is that many of the departments, currently located in the Arts and Technology building, are out of space. Some of the college faculty even put together research and documentation for a new building almost a decade ago.

“A number of years ago, I would say seven or eight years ago, maybe more, there were thoughts of a new art building,”  Mark Cowardin, Fine Arts Chair said. “We have been out of space for a long time. We have some spaces that are too tight and fairly unsafe. So we’ve been on this for a while. We had some ideas for a new building and we had even gone out for some research visits to visit other schools that had built some new buildings. So, we still have all of that documentation, that information, and some pictures.”

Currently, the sculpture room has been presenting a safety problem for students because of the lack of space. Not only are students cramped around a table working on their individual sculptures, but students are using welding equipment around wooden tables and sculptures, which is a potential fire hazard.

“The wood shop should be separate from the metal shop because there’s a fire hazard, because, you know, the sparks, from welding,” adjunct professor Jacob Burmood said. “Basically [I would like to see] more space.”

The new building is currently scheduled to break ground in the summer of 2018 and the faculty should be teaching classes as early as the spring of 2019. Many of the fine arts faculty, as led by Lane, have been compiling wish lists for what they would like to see in the new building.

“I’m starting a filmmaking program,” said Tonia Hughes, assistant professor of filmmaking and photography.  “We’re offering the first of the two filmmaking classes this fall actually. We’re thinking a bigger, badder shooting studio to accommodate both filmmaking and photography. We already have a great photography studio, a shooting studio, but to accommodate both, there will have to be new classrooms.”

The new arts building is part of a larger collaboration for many additions at the college. President Joe Sopcich and the Board of Trustees put together a Facilities Master Plan that can be found on the college’s website. This plan includes all the changes that will happen at the college starting next year, the budget and the estimated square footage of all the new buildings.


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