HAGERSTOWN — Construction is under way at Hagerstown Community College for a new arts-education facility that is expected to cost a little more than $10 million and help the school meet the needs of its growing arts program.
As a result of the work, the Kepler Theater will be closed until Nov. 30, 2011, as the work progresses.
Construction started last month, and the Performing and Visual Arts Education Center at Kepler Theater is expected to be completed in January 2012, said Robert Spong, director of facilities management and planning for the college.
School officials will provide regular updates to keep students informed about any activities that might interfere with the way they access buildings from that side of campus, the school website said.
There will be occasional need for rock blasting, but that work will not be nearly as extensive as that required for the school’s new STEM building, which is expected to be completed at about the same time as the arts facility, according to Spong and the school website, http://www.hagerstowncc.edu.
HCC staff will keep students advised of when blasting will occur, the website said.
In a related development, school officials are preparing to announce the public phase of a $1.6 million capital campaign to raise money for furniture and equipment for the arts facility and the STEM building, said school spokeswoman Elizabeth K. Stull.
In addition to meeting the needs of the school’s growing arts program, the expansion project is designed to upgrade the 32-year-old Kepler Theater, Spong said.
The Kepler Theater lobby, which was not large enough to accommodate crowds, will be torn down, as will the public restroom wing, Spong said. A larger lobby and restrooms will be built to serve the expanded theater, he said.
The addition will include a dance studio, gallery, classrooms, practice rooms, art rooms and faculty offices, according to the school’s website.
The renovation of the Kepler Theater will include refurbished seating, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant dressing room toilets and showers, a better-functioning costume shop and additional support space, according to Spong. Storage areas in the theater also will be upgraded, he said.
Many “inherently green” design principles will be used in the project, and materials will be selected with consideration given to percentage of recycled content, renewable material features and availability from local sources, school officials said.
In addition to serving students at the school, the Kepler Theater is often used for community events, which means the region will benefit from the work, Spong said.
“It’s an improvement for the whole community,” he said.
In addition to the closing of Kepler Theater during construction, parking in Lot “S” and in front of the theater will be prohibited until the arts facility is completed, the school website said.
The staircase leading from Lot “K” to the theater will be closed during construction, the website said.
A new walkway is being built that will allow students access from the lower parking lots to Kepler Drive and an additional walkway will lead from Kepler Drive to the Science Building and that side of campus, the website said.