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APSU to break ground on new fine arts building Sept. 1

            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – When Barry Jones was a student at Austin Peay State University in the early 1990s, he heard rumors about a new fine arts building going up on campus. Ten years later, Jones returned to his alma mater as an assistant professor, and he was reassured that the growing art department would soon move out of the cramped Trahern Building.

            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – When Barry Jones was a student at Austin Peay State University in the early 1990s, he heard rumors about a new fine arts building going up on campus. Ten years later, Jones returned to his alma mater as an assistant professor, and he was reassured that the growing art department would soon move out of the cramped Trahern Building.

           Another decade has passed, and Jones, now chair of the APSU Department of Art and Design, is relieved that those taunting rumors are finally over. At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 1, APSU will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new $21.3 million, 46,000-square-foot Art and Design Building. The state approved financing the project earlier this year, with APSU providing a 25 percent match of the total budget.

            “The Department outgrew its space in Trahern years ago,” Jones said. “My understanding is we’ve been on the state’s list for a new building since the 90s. We’re bursting at the seams, and this is going to give us a better designed space.”

            Construction is expected to begin this October, with the new building and an accompanying green space occupying what is now a faculty/staff parking lot between the Trahern Building and Harned Hall. The project was originally conceived as an addition to the Trahern Building, which currently houses both the APSU Department of Art and Design and the APSU Department of Theatre and Dance, but University officials quickly realized separate buildings were needed for the two growing departments.

            “We’re going to renovate Trahern, mainly mechanicals and cosmetic on the exterior,” Mitch Robinson, APSU vice president of finance and administration, said. “Theatre and Dance is going to take over most of Trahern, with ceramics and sculpture staying in that building as well.”

            The Department of Theatre and Dance is also looking to convert the old Trahern Gallery into a Black Box Theatre for small, experimental productions. 

            The new Art and Design Building will feature faculty office space, general purpose classrooms, a multifunction room, art studios, a photographic studio, a general art gallery and a student gallery.

            “We’re growing,” Jones said. “In the 10 years since I’ve been here, we’ve added four or five faculty. Our enrollment is up in the fall, and this is going to help with recruiting because our facilities will match the quality of instruction.”

            Construction is expected to take a year, with the building set to open to students in the spring of 2017. Because the project will eliminate a parking lot on campus, APSU’s Parking Committee has worked for a year on a plan to serve the campus community. Part of that plan includes rezoning parking lots and placing volunteers in lots during the first week of the fall semester to advise drivers where open parking can be found across campus. Throughout the semester, Public Safety will be using Twitter –@APSUPolice—and Facebook—APSU Campus Police—to announce where open parking can be found.

           A map on the APSU Mobile App that tracks the Peay Pickup bus system is in the works, with plans to have the app operational this academic year.