Fine Arts remodel becomes reality

By Federico Burlon

A committee of professors and staff has selected the Gund Partnership architecture firm to design the $39 million remodel of the Fine Arts Center.
Classics professor Andrew Overman chaired the selection committee, which consisted of faculty and staff from various departments. The committee selected 3 firms out of 30 they reviewed.
“There were two firms from Boston and a Minneapolis firm. Gund [from Cambridge, MA] rose to the top because they have done a lot of work in art facilities [and] they do not have a particular building style,” Tommy Bonner, Vice President for Advancement said.
The Fine Arts Center was built in the 1950’s and was at the time considered a cutting edge facility, Bonner said. “We expect the new construction to serve for another 50 years,” he said.

The firm will develop a renovation plan for the Janet Wallace Center, which includes the Theatre, Dance, Music and Fine Art departments. The new building’s facilities will be digitally run.
While the building will expand, it will not be completely demolished and rebuilt.
“The architects said that some components of the structure of the building works pretty well, such as the concert hall,” Bonner said.

However, some spaces, such as the studio art wing need higher ceilings and more open space. The concrete structure of the current building makes these alterations difficult, Bonner said.
The firm has begun the architectural plans and will work with faculty and staff throughout the semester and the summer to design the building. So far the only agreed upon idea plan is to use the central space among the four buildings as a common lobby, according to Bonner.

“By August we will be very close to knowing what the building will look like. We then do fundraising,” Bonner said.
The construction will happen in two phases so that students may use the facility throughout the process.
According to Bonner, construction will begin once the school has raised thirteen to fifteen million dollars.
“So far, five million dollars have been received from people engaged by the vision that we need a better facility,” Bonner said.