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Arts center designs on the drawing boards

September 29, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The public got a glimpse Wednesday of a "rich and powerful" Center for Contemporary Arts which is slated to be built on the west campus of Shepherd University.

Shepherd wants to build a new arts center for many reasons.

First, the school is running out of room for its arts programs and some of them are being operated out of buildings other than the Frank Center, said Rhonda Smith, coordinator of the university's printing program.

Second, the school wants a new facility that will have intimate venues to showcase its annual Contemporary American Theater Festival.

The Center for Contemporary Arts will have two 250-seat theaters and one 150-seat theater, Douglas Moss of Holzman Moss Architecture said during a community meeting Wednesday night at the university.

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The center will have larger stages, allowing sets to be moved more quickly between theater festival performances, Smith said.

The facility will have breezeways to allow students to observe theater productions as they are being worked out and see other arts programs, officials said.

Arts teachers said they expect to create a unique chemistry between the different arts programs and the theater work in the new facility.

"A different kind of energy will happen on this campus," Smith said.

The arts center will be built at the intersection of W.Va. 480, Shepherd Grade Road and West Campus Drive. Project officials are considering constructing a pedestrian bridge over W.Va. 480 that would allow students to safely reach the center and other facilities on the west campus.

The design of the building will be as unique as its offerings.

Stone will be used in part of the structure and the exterior walls will be copper, which will gradually change in color over time to give the building a greenish tint, Moss said during the community meeting at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies.

"It begins to give it a more rich environment," said Moss, describing it as a "rich and powerful" building.

The center will cost $50 million to build. So far, $10 million has been secured from the state. The $10 million will be used to construct the first phase of the building that will house a photography studio, administration offices, a print-making studio, painting studio, drawing studio and art education areas, Smith said.

The school will have to do additional fundraising to construct the rest of the facility, Smith said.

Construction on the first phase is expected to start in May and it will take about 14 to 16 months to complete, said Ray Meeker, project manager for Shepherd.

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