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New art building generates excitment at Boise State

Bryan Talbot / The Arbiter

New art building sparks hope in art department

According to Richard Young, art department chair, ground for a new fine arts building is expected to be broken in March 2014. The art building is expected to house most of the art programs, which will no longer be scattered throughout several buildings across campus, and (potentially) the Arts and Humanities Institute (an institute on campus which supports the arts and humanities programs on campus).

“I think that this will certainly create a better, stronger presence for the arts on the campus,” Young said.

Young and other Boise State administrators have said that the new art building is currently in the programming and planning phase where interior space needs are being discussed. Art graduate student and peer advisor Thomas Fassino said plans for the new Boise State art building have lessened the fear of the fine arts falling to the wayside.

“I knew that the discussion was happening and I knew the university was on their long range plan, but just to have it (the new art building plans) pop up for me personally was really cool. It caught me off guard,” Fassino said.

Making the building happen

Jared Everett, interim associate vice president of campus planning and facilities, said while funding and exterior design plans have not been drawn up, two architect firms, LCA, the local firm heading the project and also built the SUB alterations, and HGA, a Minneapolis firm specializing in fine art facilities, have been contracted to begin the programming and planning phase for the interior necessities of the building, such as gallery and lab space.

“It’s important for everyone to understand that this is in the planning phases. It hasn’t even been designed yet,” Everett said. “We think the programming effort will conclude this summer, so we will have a good idea this summer how large the facility will be, what programs are in it, how much it will cost and how within the building the different programs might be situated. It’ll be a very interesting exercise.”

This summer Everett and other faculty hope to receive design and funding approval and funding assistance from the Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBOE must approve the design and funding factors before ground can be broken in March 2014. The SBOE is the deciding voice for whether or not these projects occur.

The State of Idaho has the ability to contribute state funding to the project, which would take some of the financial burden off the university and community members.

However, nothing is set in stone. Boise State administrators have acknowledged there are no concrete plans for the building design nor have funding resources been confirmed, but Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences Tony Roark described the funding resources to come from a combination of private donations (including fundraising) and bonding (a line of credit Boise State will repay).

“Every building we’ve erected recently has been some blend of bonding plus private donations. The Micron Business and Economics building is a very nice example of that,” Roark said. “We don’t even have plans on paper so it’s certainly premature to say what the cost will be and precisely how that cost will be divided between bonding capacity and fundraising.”

What this building means for Boise State

Despite limited concrete planning, visions for what this building will bring to campus are present in the minds of faculty members. Young said this building will bring a new level of prestige to the university and especially to the art department.  According to Everett, art students will benefit from these new facilities which will address their current (and future) infrastructure needs.

“It’s going to be a landmark building that focuses on the arts,” Young said. “I think it will, with its potential location, function as a connection to the city, to the Boise Art Museum and the arts and cultural district, so it’ll really create this nexus for the arts on campus. It’ll also solidify the presence of the arts on campus.”

Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Leslie Durham said she thinks with the art programs being housed under one roof, a new creative unity will be fostered.

“I think it will concentrate focus energy,” Durham said. “I think it will have a more unified public face. I think it’s kind of a culmination of the directions we’ve been going in lately and it will be just a really nice visual representation of the great things that have been happening in arts and humanities over the last several years.”