Facility scheduled to open in the fall
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University's School of Art and Design will have a new home this fall.
Located across from Pullman Square, the new Visual Arts Center is scheduled to open shortly before the start of the fall 2014 semester. The building is located at 925 3rd Ave. The building was originally home to the Anderson-Newcomb department store before the chain was purchased by Stone & Thomas.
"The idea of taking that building and converting it into a facility for the university came out of conversations that Dr. Joe Touma and Byron Clercx, the former chair of the Department of Art and Design had several years ago," said Donald Van Horn, dean of the College of Arts and Media. "The discussions turned into a concept that was presented to the university and discussed at length. After weighing the pros and cons a decision was made that we would fully explore making that building and turning it into an instructional facility. The building was purchased about three years ago and the university went through the progress of hiring an architect to work with our faculty to design the building. That process took about 18 months. In fall of 2012 bids were made to contractors for construction work. Work began in January of 2013."
It has been a challenge.
"The biggest challenge as it turns out was the wear and tear of weather on the building over the years," Van Horn said. "There were some significant roof leaks so there was a lot of water damage and rotted wood. There was a lot of wood damage to be repaired, and the other significant challenge was that as a 110-year-old building it did not meet modern code. There was a lot of work in building several steel super structures within the building to hold it up."
The new building will allow the School of Arts and Design to continue to grow and expand it's offerings.
"This new facility will offer the opportunity for substantial enrollment growth. We are essentially doubling the amount of instructional space for a program that was bound by space. We couldn't grow and we couldn't develop new programs," Van Horn said. "This new building will allow us to look at some curricular development that we weren't able to consider before. As we look to the future and try to gage the kind of programs our future students are looking for we now have the space to grow those programs. That means more students which is good for everyone."
Because of the distance between the Visual Arts Center and the main campus, The Visual Arts Center will work on a slightly different schedule to allow students to move back and forth.
"We are looking at spending the summer just getting moved into the new facility. There are a lot of studio and instructional spaces to set up. This isn't like moving into a traditional instructional building where you just put in a bunch of desk chairs, make sure the technology works, and a bunch of faculty show up one morning to teach. Because there is a lot of highly specialized equipment that needs to be set up, faculty will be working over the summer to set up their teaching spaces. We have a lot of work ahead of us over the next several months."
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