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MU Visual Arts Center on track to open in '14

Fine Arts
Aug. 19, 2013 @ 12:54 PM

HUNTINGTON -- It may not look like much yet, but Marshall University's new Visual Arts Center in downtown Huntington will be something special when it opens next summer.

For now, the six-story former department store across from Pullman Square on 3rd Avenue simply looks like a 111-year-old building receiving an extensive makeover. And that's not really far from the truth, said Ron May, Marshall's director of Facilities Planning and Management.

He said 65 tons of new steel has been put in the building to help reinforce the structure and bring it up to new 2009 wind-load codes, meaning it can withstand speeds of up to 90 miles per hour.

At this point, workers with Neighborgall Construction are installing new floor insulation and drywall.

They also have demolished a section of floor on the ground floor, where new elevators and a stairwell will be built from the basement to the sixth floor. May said flooring on the upper floors will be ripped out next.

"We knew it would be an undertaking," May said.

Crews also are starting to install duct work, which will run through each floor in the old freight elevator shaft.

Contractors plan to start installing new windows by the end of September. May said they anticipate all the renovations to be completed by June 1, then spend June and July moving classroom equipment from Smith Hall. The new Visual Arts Center will be ready for the start of the 2014 fall semester.

Inside the Visual Arts Center:

The first floor will have a student art gallery and retail space, while classrooms, studios and offices will be on the second through sixth floors.

That will include dye labs, weaving, print making, screen printing workrooms, photography, papermaking digital labs, lighting studio, drafting and typography, drawing studio, painting studio and printing studio.