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W&M arts building construction continues

  • Rendering of two brick and glass buildings side by side
    Performing arts spaces:  Renderings show the exterior designs for the renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall (left) and new music building to be built beside it at William & Mary.  Photo courtesy of Moseley Architects and HGA Architects
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Construction on William & Mary’s new performing arts facilities is continuing this fall after being delayed early in the calendar year due to unforeseen increases in construction costs.  The  expected completion date is now fall 2022.

When finished, the dance department will join theatre in the newly-renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall, and music will move into its own new building.

“We’re very excited to get back to work on the project and we look forward to seeing this complex take shape,” said Chief Operating Officer Amy Sebring. “When finished, this will be a state-of-the-art facility for teaching and performance.”

The project currently underway, which is formally known as Fine and Performing Arts Complex phase one and two, was started in the summer of 2018 at an estimated cost of $122 million. Demolition work began last year but work was halted once university officials determined a significant increase in the estimated cost of construction.

“Market conditions around construction and additional work required on the site due to prior earthquake damage resulted in cost increases for the project,”  Sebring said. Despite that challenge, she added, the university continued to make progress by conducting site preparation and pursuing permits for the next phase of the construction.

The Virginia General Assembly biennial budget signed by the Governor in May 2020 included $16.6 million in additional funds for the project, but authorization by the state was slowed due to Virginia’s economic uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic. That authorization occurred last week and work will recommence this month.

“We are very grateful to the governor and the General Assembly for their continued support of this important project,” said Sebring, adding that the scope of the arts complex remains the same.

As part of the planned Arts Quarter, the long-range plan includes phase one with the building of a new music facility, phase two with the renovation of Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall and a future third phase with the renovation and expansion of Andrews Hall and facilities for art and art history. Phases one and two were combined, and phase three does not currently have a projected timeline.

W&M’s Design Review Board approved initial exterior design concepts for the renovation of PBK Memorial Hall and the new music building. The renderings of the proposed architecture show modern style buildings featuring open-air designs with lots of glass. 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 previous approximately 750 seats 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.

The expanded Arts Quarter also will include The Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Arts, which will serve as the home to the expanded and renovated Muscarelle Museum of Art.

“We continue to move forward on design development for the renovation and expansion of the museum,” said Muscarelle Director David Brashear. “Currently slated to open in early 2023, the renewed museum will include additional gallery space, a state-of-the-art study center for works on paper, a hall for special functions, expanded storage areas for the collection and new staff quarters.  The combined new facility will total approximately 50,000 to 55,000 square feet, with a new entrance through a central atrium that bridges between the old wing and the new wing.”

The W&M theatre department relocated to various areas around campus during its displacement from PBK Memorial Hall. Music and dance have stayed in their current spaces in Ewell and Adair halls, respectively, during construction.

Theatre and dance performances were taking place at the Kimball Theatre, while music performances were being held at various venues, prior to COVID-19 sending them onto virtual platforms.

Theatre faculty have moved temporarily to Morton Hall, with a few moving to offices in the Kimball along with theatre’s box office operation. Theatre’s costume shop and scene shop are housed at the Dillard Complex, with costuming in the Patrick Galt House and Gabriel Galt House, and a  structure built for Arts & Sciences storage being used temporarily for the scene shop.

Theatre classes are being held at various locations depending upon the equipment needed. Those spaces include available classrooms on campus, the former Student Health Center building, Campus Center, Kimball Theatre and the Dillard Complex.