New building completes arts campus

FAMS and theater classes to be held in the fall

After about two years of construction, the new film and media studies and theater building will be open for the new year.

It’s completion is one of the last additions to the arts campus, which has been an ongoing project for about 12 years.

Originally the site of a service station at 219 N. Third St. that was demolished in 2014, the building will feature a 200 seat black box theater, 180 seat cinema, a smart classroom and offices for theater faculty.

Even though this construction process has run according to plan, there have been some difficulties.

“The site’s location along the bank of the Bushkill Creek required the construction of a large retaining wall before the main building could be constructed,” Director of Planning Facilities and Construction Mary Wilford-Hunt wrote in an email. “The location is also within the 100-year floodplain and that drove the design of the building, which has the first finished floor raised up above the floodplain level.”

As of now, classes are not planned to start in the new building until next fall. One of the reasons for this, President Alison Byerly said, is so the people using the classrooms can become accustomed to the new amenities.

“Some of the rooms have fairly significant technology and the timetable is such that the stuff will be just barely in by the time we get back,” Byerly said. “We felt that it wouldn’t be a good idea to schedule things there this spring because it would be hard to start a class without having had the chance to get used to the technology.”

The building, however, will be used for other purposes in the spring semester.

“Although we don’t have classes scheduled in the spring, [the building] should be open in terms of people in there and using it,” Byerly said. “The formal opening won’t be until next fall, but we will have certainly events and things at various times in the spring.”

The building’s black box theater may be used next semester as a rehearsal space for theater majors, Byerly said.

“I am really excited to use the new building,” said Liza Fryman ‘16, a double major in FAMS and theater. “I saw the inside in October, so it has been cool to see the whole project evolve. It looks awesome.”

“I’m so upset that I am only going to be able to use the black box theater for one semester,” Fryman added. “It is a bummer, but I know that it will be put to good use in the future.”

The black box theater will be named after former president of the college Dan Weiss and his wife, Sandra. They are both proponents of the arts. Weiss became the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in March 2015.

Not only are the seniors excited for the opening of this new building, but so are the freshmen who are now able to use the building until they graduate.

“I’m pretty excited for this new building,” said Kevin Callaghan ‘17, who’s a FAMS minor. “It looks really nice and I’ve heard great things. I definitely want to use this building more than the current FAMS building. I really want to take advantage of everything that the department now has to offer.”

The finalization of the new academic building has prompted talks of expansion for other services downtown, including dining.

“We are thinking about ways to better deliver food to students downtown,” Vice President forCampus Life Annette Diorio said. The college has been discussing ways to make the Spot not only a viable lunch option for faculty and students, but also for evening performances downtown.

In September, there will be a public opening ceremony or a gala for the new building, Byerly said.

 

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