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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Arts Union construction on track

<ound 1910, on the corner of what is now 3rd and College Street, Northfield built a high school. It was later turned into a middle school, as a new high school was built elsewhere. In 1934, an auditorium was added, and around twenty years later, a gym was built. This space, comprised of three brick buildings attached solidly together, was a central part of the Northfield middle school academic world for a long time. It wasn’t until 2004 that the Northfield middle school was relocated. A year later, Carleton bought the space, funded primarily by trustees.

Around the same time that the site became available, the Arts Planning Committee came to its head. While there was much discussion as to what to do with the space, the Arts Planning Committee advocated strongly to turn the building into a space where the arts could be celebrated while still being integrated with the rest of the college. According to Steve Richardson, director of the arts, the “big idea was to make collaboration possible with the arts, but not to make the building primarily for arts facility.” Although it does create a space for the “performing, media, and visual arts and it will replace the Arena theater and art gallery in the Concert Hall,” the purpose of the project is not to separate the arts from the other fields of study. Instead, it works to better integrate the fields together: it will be a place where all fields of study can collaborate and fuse together into a great process of incorporated learning.

As Richardson states, places like “the Arena theater and the art gallery will come up from underground and morph into an entity we’re calling the teaching museum which will be a much larger exhibition space, more integrated with the curriculum.” For example, the teaching museum will host events such aa opportunities for the astronomy department to host images of the night sky “and fuse them into how artists have imagined the heavenly world mixed with science.”

It is an essential building for “making the arts a much more integral part of Carleton.” Though a large portion of the building is dedicated to the performing arts—CAMS will move out of Scoville, there will be a larger stage, a theater, screening rooms that will replace those in Olin, and video production studios—classrooms are also being built and professors from all fields are encouraged to apply to have an office space in the new building.

According to Steve Richardson, “the Arts Union building is right on track to open in the fall of 2011,” which he agrees is “great news,” Renovation is “going smoothly,” and a team of about 60 workers, work from 7 a.m.  until 3:30 p.m. every day. They will be working through the winter to complete the project. The architectural team has worked hard to preserve the beauty of the historical aesthetics in the buildings, and is modeling the new building being built in a way that integrates modern themes of architecture with the quaintness that is preserved in the older buildings.

The buildings also were designed to match the other buildings on campus, such as the stone from Scoville or the deep red brick from Nourse. “The architects hired specialize in preserving the rich architectural details and historical spaces,” states Richardson.

The Arts Union building, will be a new place for students to hang out, and will include a coffee shop and mini-atrium. Be sure to check out the construction space at 3rd street and College.

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