U of A's School of Art Breaks Ground on Windgate Studio and Design Center
The University of Arkansas School of Art hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 13, for its new Windgate Studio and Design Center building at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Hill Avenue.
The ceremony kicked off the construction on the building, expanding the footprint of the planned Windgate Art and Design District in the heart of south Fayetteville.
In 2017, the School of Art received a transformational $40 million gift from the Windgate Charitable Foundation to create the new art and design district that will serve students, faculty, artists, designers and the community.
"As a land-grant institution committed to building a nationally competitive School of Art, we are very excited to take this momentous step toward bringing the Windgate Art and Design District to fruition," Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said. "Through the generosity of the Windgate Charitable Foundation and partnerships across our community, the University of Arkansas is working hard to help our state become known as one of the foremost leaders in the arts. We cannot thank the Windgate folks enough for their amazing support, and for the incredible opportunities this district and its new Windgate Studio and Design Center will create for our community and beyond."
"We are thrilled to join the University of Arkansas School of Art in celebrating the groundbreaking for the new art building in the Windgate Art and Design District," said Patricia Forgy, executive director of the Windgate Foundation. "The beautiful new facility will dramatically increase the space for the different art disciplines and also allow for interesting collaborations with the nearby Sculpture Studio. It's a great time to be an art student at U of A."
The Windgate Studio and Design Center will anchor the southern edge of the Windgate Art and Design District, located next to the School of Art's existing sculpture facility on Hill Avenue.
The center will bring the school's studio art and graphic design programs together in a four-story 154,600-square-foot state-of-the-art building, tripling the size of its current classrooms and work areas.
Construction will begin in October and will be completed in summer 2022, with the center opening to students, faculty and the community that fall.
"We are so excited for all who will soon be able to call the new building and district home," said Todd Shields, dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the School of Art. "We are thrilled to be able to create a space that will bring people together to explore the deeper meaning of the world around us and express themselves creatively — activities which are at the heart of what studying the fine arts aims to do."
Jeannie Hulen, associate dean of fine arts for Fulbright College, agreed, adding: "Our students and faculty will be able to have a professional facility matching the level of work they currently design and make. They will be able to exhibit their work in this space and open themselves up to the community enabling more collaboration. There will be gathering places intertwined in each floor, weaving through and bringing together studios, critique and gallery spaces and nontraditional classrooms that will blur boundaries between disciplines to encourage intensive collaboration and creativity."
Architect firms HGA, based in Minneapolis, and MAHG Architecture of Fort Smith have worked closely with the university and the School of Art to ensure the new center will be integrated into the community as a hub for the arts.
Project designer Andrew Weyenberg describes the building as a connective space, a natural theme that developed throughout its planning. He said the building will also have a sense of transparency with strategically placed windows, and a rhythmic pattern will be etched into its metal paneling.
"The new Windgate Studio and Design Center seeks to remove limitations through the creation of an open, spatially rich environment, and encourage collaboration and engagement between disciplines while providing the functional space, tools and resources necessary for students and faculty to fully realize their ambitions," said Andrew Weyenberg, project designer of HGA. "The building and the funding that made it possible are a tangible demonstration of a remarkable commitment to the arts and their importance in the future of the region."
The community will be invited to enjoy leisure time at the Windgate Studio and Design Center's coffee shop as well as participate in exhibitions, attend events with visiting artists, designers and scholars, and experience the center's courtyard and amphitheater.
"This center is a milestone achievement for art education and for the Arkansas community," said Gerry Snyder, executive director of the School of Art. "Thanks to the Windgate Charitable Foundation we have been able to design a space that is all about connection and relationship. This space will bring students and faculty together from across seven different current campus locations, and then unite these outstanding artists and designers with the community."
Snyder said the landscape of the arts, campus and community are changing as the center begins construction.
"We look forward to inviting everyone into this space soon, and to furthering the work to place Arkansas on the map as one of the most innovative leaders in the global arts community," he said.
For more information about the Windgate Art and Design District or the School of Art, please visit art.uark.edu.
From left, Gerry Snyder, Jeannie Hulen, Joseph Steinmetz, Charles Robinson, Mark Powers and Ann Bordelon break ground on the Windgate Studio and Design Center for the School of Art.
Kayla Crenshaw, director of communications
School of Art
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