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Arts Quarter taking shape as architect is announced for Muscarelle expansion

  • Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall:
    Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall:  Phase two of the plan includes the renovation of Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. Theatre and speech will move out of PBK Hall in the summer of 2018, with faculty offices and classes moving into Morton Hall. Performances are likely to be held in Trinkle Hall, which will be outfitted to house them.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Next steps are taking shape for the new Arts Quarter at William & Mary.

Pelli Clarke Pelli of New Haven, Connecticut, has been selected as the architectural firm that will design a planned state-of-the-art facility called The Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts, which will include an expanded Muscarelle Museum of Art.

The selection is the latest step in the construction and renovation that will result in a planned Arts Quarter prominently situated on Jamestown Road.

That plan includes phase one with the building of a new music facility, phase two with the renovation of Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall and phase three with the renovation and expansion of Andrews Hall and facilities for art and art history. The new music building will run next to PBK on the Barksdale Field side of it.

Current plans have design work on phases one and two taking place over the next 15 months, after which ground will be broken on the two projects simultaneously in summer 2018. They are expected to be completed in the summer of 2020, according to Martha Terrell, senior planner and assistant to the senior vice president for finance and administration.

Moseley Architects of Norfolk is the primary architect with music and performing arts specialist HGA Architects out of Minneapolis serving as subcontractor for the music building and PBK renovation, Terrell said.


Last year the state budget included design and construction authority for the first two phases of the Arts Quarter. The idea is that both can be done concurrently and therefore reduce the total cost of the project.

The design funding that the state has provided will pay for phases one and two through preliminary working drawings, Terrell said. At the completion of the preliminary working drawings, university officials and the architects will do a cost estimate, which will be sent to the Bureau of Capital Outlay Management in Richmond to set the final budget. The total project estimate is currently $118 million.

Construction, which could begin by summer 2018, is expected to take two years.

Theatre and speech will move out of PBK Hall in the summer of 2018, with faculty offices and classes moving into Morton Hall, Terrell said. Performances are likely to be held in Trinkle Hall, which will be outfitted to house them.

University officials will get the architects for the arts buildings together with those for the museum so that they can share their vision and make sure their designs are compatible, Terrell said.

“We just want to make sure that whatever distinctive identity they might have will be complementary to each other,” she said.

The Muscarelle Museum expansion is being funded by private donations and quite possibly may be in progress at the same time construction is being done for the music building and PBK Hall renovation.

Design and construction

Currently faculty leaders and members from theatre, speech and dance, as well as music, are meeting with architects and acousticians to finalize the uses of the space in the new buildings.

The music building will contain a 450-seat concert hall and a 125-seat recital hall, with classrooms and faculty offices on the second floor, and applied faculty, practice rooms and the library on the lower level.

The main theatre in PBK Hall will be renovated from its current approximately 750 seats down to just under 500. The building will also contain a 250-seat studio theatre, a 100-seat lab theatre and a 60-seat dance recital theatre in addition to classrooms and faculty offices.

“We did a lot of work on the preplanning study to try to make it as instructional-intensive as it needs to be to support the students and what the students are doing,” Terrell said.

The university considered using off-campus facilities for theatre and speech. But Sam Jones, senior vice president for finance and administration, was adamant that students attending the university during the construction didn’t get short-changed, Terrell said.

Christopher Owens, chair of theatre, speech and dance, is already planning for what he conjectures will be three years of displacement during construction.

In addition to moving classrooms and offices and using a temporary performance space, the department will move its scene shop to a facility at the Dillard Complex and relocate its costume shop to space in Campus Center/Trinkle Hall.

That includes more than 240 lighting instruments, tons of fabric and all the lumber it usually takes to mount a production, according to Owens. He is working on planning for building a temporary 250-seat theatre with seating at Trinkle, as well as joining a handful of key colleagues in the work on the new building.

“We’re all very excited, but we’re frightened at the same time,” Owens said. “Just because it’s this wonderful big deal, but we really want to get it right because it’s going to be up for another 50 years. And some of us are going to work in it, and we want to work well.”

Music and dance will stay in their current spaces in Ewell and Adair halls, respectively, during construction. But each has a few performances a year in PBK Hall that will take place in Trinkle through that time period.


Jamie Bartlett, chair of the music department, pointed out that music has never had a large performance venue and uses various facilities in the local area as well as PBK after theatre season ends each semester. She described the new concert and recital halls, as well as additional faculty offices, in the new music building as ideal for having a thriving center for everything.

 “From the plan it looks like yes, we’ll be getting what we’re very, very excited about it,” Bartlett said. “I like the idea of being closer to theatre, speech and dance and art and art history to bring the arts alive on campus.”

She spoke about the creative outlet that music provides as a key element for a well-rounded student, pointing out how many non-music majors take lessons and participate in music ensembles.

Dance Program Director Joan Gavaler is thrilled at the prospect of having more than one dance studio in which to schedule classes and rehearsals. She is also looking forward to having all of the arts and music colleagues in one place and fostering informal interactions that will come from that, she said.

“The synergy that I think can grow out of that once this building is built, and we have all moved together, is the main thing that I’m looking forward to,” Gavaler said.