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Shepherd breaks ground on arts building

By Staff | Apr 21, 2011

Shepherd University officials broke ground Thursday for phase two for the Center for Contemporary Arts, a three-story, 26,000-square-foot building that will cost almost $14 million in state bond and private matching funds.

Dow Benedict, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, highlighted the features of the building, designed by Holzman Moss Bottino of New York City. The modern facility, which will be Silver LEED certified, will include a theater for performance space for the Contemporary American Theater Festival, a general classroom, two computer labs, a multipurpose room, an art gallery, scene and prop shops, a sculpture studio, among other things.

Eddie Kung, principal of Holzman Moss Bottino, said the new building will foster shared learning and experimentation while providing an atmosphere for collaboration. His company also constructed the Phase I building, which was completed four years ago.

Sonya Evanisko, professor of art, currently teaches in the facility built during phase one.

“The connection between the students and the professionals … has created great educational opportunities for the art students,” she said. “It’s been a joy to work in this building.”

Evanisko believes the phase two building will only “deepen the offerings” for Shepherd students, faculty, professionals and community members alike once complete.

“It really is a lovely collaboration for the students and the professionals at large,” she said.

Benedict said it will be the first time in 20 years that the entire art department is housed in one location. He said the benefit of this is that artists today no matter what their discipline feed off one another.

Photography major Jessica Peters agrees.

“From an art standpoint, I think it’s really important to interact with each other,” she said.

Peters, a Shepherdstown native, said another bonus of everything being in one location is convenience.

“It’s a lot of going back and forth, back and forth,” she said of the current building locations.

Joshua Zelenka, a photography major, is excited to see the next phase of the center.

“It really justifies the department,” he said, noting that students will now have space to work in such as graphic design and sculpture students like they never did before.

And both Peters and Zelenka agreed it was nice to see the community accept a contemporary structure in such a historic town.

“I’m glad Shepherdstown isn’t limiting the school,” Peters said.

Community support has been a big part in seeing the project to fruition.

Jenny Allen, a member of both the CATF and Higher Education Policy Commission, spearheaded the Create the Future campaign, the effort between the CATF, Shepherd and the citizens that raised the just over $2 million in matching monies for the CCA.

“I was so proud to work on this,” Allen said.

Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley said Allen had “unflagging optimism” throughout the donation campaign.

“The arts are very important to the life of a liberal arts university such as Shepherd,” Allen said.