St. Paul, Minn. – Macalester College has secured funding and board approval to move forward with the first phase of a comprehensive renovation and expansion of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center.  The project will begin in January 2011.

“The arts help bridge cultures in our increasingly interconnected world and are central to a liberal arts education,” said Macalester President Brian Rosenberg. “This project is vital to strengthening the arts at Macalester and in the broader community in which our students and faculty live, work, and create.”

The Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, built in 1965, houses the Music, Art, and Theatre & Dance Departments. The first phase of the project includes renovating and expanding the Music building, including fully renovating the Concert Hall, adding rehearsal space, and creating an Arts Commons in the central core of the building which will house new art history classrooms and a new art gallery. The commons will also serve as additional lobby space for the concert hall and main stage theater, and a gathering space for the campus community. The first phase is expected to take 18 months, reopening in fall 2012.

The project includes approximately 68,000 square feet of new and renovated arts space. The arts project cost is $33.8 million. In conjunction with the arts improvements, the college will also complete a $6 million, 31,000 square foot renovation of the facilities department, located in the lower level of the building, bringing the total project cost to $39.8 million. The college has raised $16.5 million towards a $24 million fundraising goal focused solely on the arts building improvements. The college will bond for the remaining $15.8 million.

“We absolutely could not do this project without the generosity of alumni and friends of the college,” said Rosenberg. “Our ability to move forward at a time when many colleges across the country are pulling back on capital projects will give our community a distinct advantage in attracting talented artists—both students and faculty.”

Rosenberg explained that the college is making every effort to minimize disruption for students and faculty. During construction, music classes will be held in a variety of locations on or adjacent to campus. Concerts will be held on campus at Weyerhaeuser Memorial Chapel or the Alexander G. Hill Ballroom, or adjacent to campus at Macalester Plymouth Church. Choral rehearsals will be held adjacent to campus at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Faculty offices will be relocated to an office building adjacent to campus.

HGA of Minneapolis is the architect and McGough Construction of St. Paul is the contractor. Renderings can be found here.

The second phase of the project will begin once the first phase is complete and necessary funds are raised.  Phase Two will include the Art, and Theatre and Dance Department buildings. Rosenberg said the college does not yet have a detailed budget or architectural plan for that phase.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,958 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.

October 4 2010

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