Ribbon cut on second building of Shepherd University's Center for Contemporary Arts

Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities: 'This building is a unique collaboration of arts and theater'

April 18, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • The exterior of the new Center for Contemporary Arts Phase II building at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — The second of three buildings forming Shepherd University’s Center for Contemporary Arts, a “building designed from the inside out,” was dedicated Thursday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the West Campus.

“That’s what happens when the inside dictates what the outside of a building looks like,” said Dow Benedict, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.

The exterior of the 26,000-square-foot, three-story structure is clad in heavy copper shingles that time will darken with a patina. It was built at a cost of nearly $14 million, $11.8 million of which came through state bonding.

The interior has a fluid, meandering, unfinished feel about it signifying a continual work space, Benedict said. Light from north-facing windows will flood into the building, he said.

“Art occupies a special place in any community.” Benedict said. “This building is a unique collaboration of arts and theater.”

The building’s small black theater will be a new venue for small productions at this summer’s Contemporary American Theater Festival as well as provide performance space for Shepherd student productions.


Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley said the new building, dubbed CCA II, represents a “blend of contemporary and tradition. It infuses the campus with the community.”

The design of the new building, like its predecessor, CCA I, which opened three years ago 50 feet to the west, is somewhat reminiscent of a quonset hut, a design that’s supposed to mimic the rolling Maryland mountain ridges on the eastern horizon.

CCA I houses an office complex for faculty and CATF staffers and studios for print making, painting, drawing, art education and photography, Benedict said. There also is a multipurpose room.

While there are definite plans to build CCA III, no one at the university could predict when construction might begin. Unlike its predecessors, the cost of the third building, since it will have only theaters and no classrooms, will have to be paid with local funds.

The state doesn’t pay for buildings that don’t offer classroom instruction, Shipley said.

Jenny Allen, a member of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and president of the Board of Trustees of the Contemporary American Theater Festival, said the theater festival will produce its 100th play this summer on the Shepherd campus.

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