Construction on Studio Art could start as early as 2013

By Diego Ruiz

Macalester is around $2 million in fundraising gifts away from beginning a planned renovation and expansion of the Studio Art building in January 2013. Provost Kathleen Murray, the principal coordinator of Janet Wallace renovations, said preliminary budget estimates for the project are in the area of $18 million. Currently, she said she is making two plans: one for construction to start at the beginning of 2013, and one for construction to start at the beginning of 2014. “The Board [of Trustees] was quite anxious to move forward, so they pressed us to at least plan for 2013,” said Murray. Tommy Bonner, the Vice President for Advancement, wrote in an email that $3 million had been raised toward the project. Whether the college starts construction in 2013 or 2014 will depend on if they meet fundraising goals–specifically, if the college can raise $2 million more for the project by the October Board of Trustees meeting. If the college meets this goal and the Board of Trustees approves the construction, the renovation and expansion would start in January of 2013. $6 million of the $18 million project would be paid for by fundraising, with the remainder of the project financed through debt. If the Board of Trustees decides to wait, construction would not start until 2014. If that is the case the college would raise $7.5 million by October 2013 and raise $9 million for the $18 million project, Bonner said. “The Board [of Trustees] is willing to borrow more if we can start sooner,” wrote Bonner in an email. One of the difficulties both Murray and Bonner mentioned in fundraising for the studio art project is the recent completion of the Step Forward capital campaign. “We’ve had very, very generous donors for Step Forward, and how many times do you go back to the same people and say, ‘now we need phase two,’” said Murray. “It is a delicate tightrope we will walk if we go back to donors that have just stepped up in a huge way with pledges for Step Forward,” said Bonner. Bonner said he was also hoping that new donors would contribute to the project. Transitional Spaces In case construction starts at the beginning of 2013, the administration and the Art and Art History department faculty are developing a plan to have transitional spaces on and near campus ready for studio art. “[The studio art faculty] have decided what kinds of spaces they need, so we’ll sit with Tom Welna [Director of the High Winds Fund] and a bunch of other people and figure out what spaces we have and where we could put them all,” said Murray. Murray hopes that studio art students will not “have to get on a bus or in a van to go to class.” “We’ll do the best we can do keep them close,” said Murray.

Art Professor Ruthann Godollei said that the Art department would still be able to offer its full curriculum during construction. “We have plans to teach everything we teach now. We’re just going to do it in temporary spaces,” said Godollei. Although the content and processes taught in class would have to change somewhat due to the constraints of temporary spaces, Godollei said this also created opportunities. “Artists are good at being creative with spaces,” Godollei said. “A lot of times you can do something exciting and interesting in a new space that you couldn’t do in the one you had before.” New possibilities for studio art The current art building opened almost 50 years ago in 1964 and was designed for 100 students and three faculty members. Now, according to Godollei, Art has 400 students a year, three full-time and four part-time faculty. The renovation and expansion will give the department sorely-needed new space. Senior majors will have their own studio space, there will be classrooms with computers for 2-D Design and Digital Photography and studios will be larger. “We won’t be teaching in the halls anymore,” said Godollei.

Additionally, the new building will be ADA-accessible and have modern, state-of-the-art safety and ventilation equipment. New Arts Commons and Music Dept. Meanwhile, the first phase of construction on Janet Wallace – a new Music building and a central Arts Commons that will house a gallery and Art History space – is due to finish this summer, ahead of the original schedule and under budget. Murray, who said she has been checking in on the construction site about once a week, said the building was “so beautiful I can’t wait for people to get in.” According to Murray, if construction continues on target, the move-in date will be July 16, allowing faculty and staff to be “accustomed to how it works before classes.” Although next year’s art students might be working on projects out of temporary spaces if fundraising for the new building goes well, Godollei noted that they would have the upshot of getting to show their work in the new gallery. “When our student show and senior show come up annually, they’ll be in a deluxe space that shows off their work,” said Godollei. refresh –>