A Dream Deferred
Arts campus still under construction after 10 years
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 13:03
Film & Media Studies major Anne Flanagan ‘13 is thrilled about the new theater and FAMS campus down the hill. But she continues to wait for access to those facilities, yet to be completed after a decade of construction.
Director of Facilities Planning and Construction Mary Wilford-Hunt tried to explain what is taking so long.
“The design has been significantly altered over the past six months,” Wilford-Hunt said. “The complete redesign will create a new and exciting gateway to our campus and will accommodate the needs of the theater and FAMS departments.”
Wilford-Hunt was adamant that there are no current delays. It is just a “complex series of phases involving dozens of stakeholders.” The stakeholders here are students, faculty, administrators, trustees, architects, engineers, and regulatory boards.
Lafayette expects board approval of the design as early as May, which is the first of many steps in the approval procedure.
After the board accepts the new design, it will also have to be approved by at least eight governing agencies, including Easton Planning Commission, Easton’s Zoning Board, and City Council.
The Williams Arts Campus will feature five different parts, three of which are already completed.
The Williams Visual Arts Building was finalized in 2001. It is a 23,500 square foot workplace facility for classes like drawing, painting, photography, and sculpture.
The Spot, also finished, is a weekend social venue for students.
The outdoor Arts Plaza, completed in 2011, is an open air courtyard that will serve as a venue for art exhibits, performances, and other gatherings.
The new campus will be finished with a collection of buildings, including the Mohican building, a historic structure that is being restored to become a state-of-the art television/video production studio, rehearsal studio, smart classrooms, faculty offices, and other common spaces for students
Case’s Tire Company, which used to be located on this site, will be turned into a facility that will be home to a black box theater, costume and scene shop, and movie theater.
The new plans for these buildings are due to the discovery of a sinkhole and a few other “geotechnical deficiencies,” according to Plant Operations. The project had to be redesigned for the construction of the two remaining facilities.
The exterior renovation of the Mohican building and the Arts Plaza were both completed last year.
“It is likely that the interior construction of the Mohican Building will begin later this year,” Wilford-Hunt said. “The new collection of buildings will start in 2014.”
“I feel good about the progress of the construction,” Wilford-Hunt added.
Tim Gaziano ‘15, a FAMS major, believes the new facilities will address the concerns of the growing number of students with film interests.
“FAMS doesn’t really have a place of its own on campus,” he said. “Geology has a building, art has a building, and now FAMS needs a building.” Gaziano hopes to see the FAMS facilities completed before he graduates.
Flanagan, who is graduating this year, believes the FAMS department has done a good job covering the different facets of film and media. Still, she doesn’t underestimate the value of a new space
“The current facilities are very good,” she said. “The Mac lab in the library is sufficient to cut films on Final Cut and it gives film students a space to work in—but a whole new building would be even better.”