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W&M unveils site plan for arts facilities

The proposed “Arts Quarter” project for the fine and performing arts is a top priority in the university’s six-year plan.  

Anna Martin, vice president of administration, unveiled the revamped site plan for W&M’s Arts Quarter to members of the Committee on Buildings and Grounds at the Board of Visitors meeting Thursday morning.

The university is planning a three-phase project over six years as part of the Commonwealth’s biennial budget process. All phases were included in the 2014–2020 Six-Year Capital Plan, submitted to the Commonwealth in June. 

Martin’s presentation outlined the first phase, which will feature a new music building. A renovated Phi Beta Kappa Hall for theatre, speech and dance will mark the second phase, while the third phase will feature a renovated Andrews Hall with new studio space for art & art history.

W&M is asking the Commonwealth to provide funding for all three phases, a total estimated cost of $143.9 million. Martin said the site plan is revamped from the more ambitious 2009 feasibility study, and the College remains focused on updating the academic art facilities on campus.

“The benefits of completing this project over several years allows us to solve the most critical issues first as well as create some swing space for the subsequent phases, thereby reducing the cost,” said Martin.   

Music, Theatre, Art

Phase 1 of the Arts Quarter would provide the music department with a brand new 75,000 square foot building for teaching and performance space. The music building would include a 450-seat concert hall, soundproof practice rooms, teaching studios and a 125-seat recital hall.  Total estimated cost for Phase 1 is $52.3 million, said Martin.  

Facilities for theatre, speech and dance are slated to be completely renovated during Phase 2. PBK, home to the College’s mainstage theatre, will be completely renovated and expanded at the entrance to create additional space for a new foyer and box office. New dance spaces will provide the program with a dance rehearsal studio and support spaces. The estimated cost for Phase 2 is $59.5 million. 

Phase 3 of the Arts Quarter would see a complete renovation of Andrews Hall, which houses a gallery, classrooms, 2D art studios and 150-seat lecture hall.  A new, small building will also be constructed west of PBK for 3D art studios – ceramics, sculpture and architecture – facilities that require additional HVAC and mechanical systems, said Martin.  The additional building means all of the 3D studios will be located in one space so students taking classes can remain in one centralized area. Phase 3 is expected to cost $32.1 million.

The College is hoping that funding for Phase 1 of the Arts Quarter will be included in the Governor’s budget this December and supported by the General Assembly. If funding is received, construction could begin as early as late 2015.  

Larger projects = several phases

Completing construction projects in multiple stages over several years is not unprecedented at William & Mary. For example, construction on the first phase of the Integrated Science Center – known on campus as the ISC – began in February 2006.  The second phase, ISC 2, opened in spring of 2009. Construction on ISC 3 is expected to begin in 2014.

Virginia’s new governor and the General Assembly will have an opportunity to consider the requests in the 2014 budget. Martin noted the state has authorized a pool of funds for construction projects over the past few years and William & Mary’s 2014 request will be evaluated against the construction needs from agencies across the state.

The Arts Quarter project does not include William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum of Art. The 2009 plan also included a proposal for a new facility for the Muscarelle. 

Aaron De Groft, director of the Muscarelle Museum, said the museum staff and board stand behind the university’s decision to address the academic needs on campus first. The Muscarelle is moving forward with private fund-raising efforts and plans for a new facility, he said.

“We are very happy the College has staked a claim in the arts,” said De Groft. “We are supportive of the College administration moving forward with updating and renovating the academic facilities on campus, which is very important for the teaching of our students.”