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APSU breaks ground on new Art and Design Building

On a humid summer morning, a large crowd gathered on the Austin Peay State University campus to celebrate the beginning of a long-awaited project—the construction of a new fine arts building.

“This building was put on APSU’s list of projects in 1998,” APSU President Alisa White said during the Sept. 1 groundbreaking ceremony. “We put it on the state’s list in 2004, and it is long overdue, and that is because we are bursting at the seams.”

On a humid summer morning, a large crowd gathered on the Austin Peay State University campus to celebrate the beginning of a long-awaited project—the construction of a new fine arts building.

“This building was put on APSU’s list of projects in 1998,” APSU President Alisa White said during the Sept. 1 groundbreaking ceremony. “We put it on the state’s list in 2004, and it is long overdue, and that is because we are bursting at the seams.”

More than 100 people showed up that morning, happily sweating while they watched ceremonial shovels dig into the earth, kicking off the construction phase for the new $21.3 million, 46,000-square-foot Art and Design Building and Trahern Building renovation.

Before donning a hardhat for the groundbreaking, John Morgan, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor, told the crowd that he was also eager for this new building to arrive. Morgan, after all, grew up on the APSU campus while his father, Joe, served as the University’s president.

“I know that there are many, many folks here who are extraordinarily happy to see this day finally come, and that list of people includes me,” he said. “This project represents a continued investment really toward first-class, world-class facilities at this institution. It promises to make what is already a beautiful campus even more beautiful.”

Construction is expected to begin this October, with the new building and an accompanying green space occupying what was 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.

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.

“The Department of Art and Design places a very high value on student engagement and undergraduate research,” Barry Jones, department chair, said. “In art, this means having a place to wonder, a place to experiment and a safe place to fail and succeed. Our new building will provide this.”

Construction is expected to take a year, with the building set to open to students in the spring of 2017.

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University, Tennessee Board of Regents and community officials break ground on Austin Peay State University's new Art and Design Building in a ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. (Beth Liggett, APSU)