Groundbreaking Ceremony First Step in Construction of New UW Visual Arts Center

September 1, 2010
Concept art of building
An artist's view of the new visual arts facility at the University of Wyoming. (UW Photo)

Ground was broken Wednesday morning at the University of Wyoming for a new visual arts facility that will expand teaching space and provide additional rooms for student projects.

The 79,000-square foot, two-story Visual Arts Center will be located on the undeveloped northwest corner of 22nd Street and Willett Drive -- east of the Centennial Complex building that houses the UW Art Museum and American Heritage Center. The Visual Arts Center will replace overcrowded and out-of-date facilities for visual arts and will include several studios.

The Visual Arts Center will provide expanded teaching studios and spaces for art history, ceramics, drawing, foundations of art, graphics, painting, printmaking, sculpture and small metals. In addition to the basic teaching studios, the facility will provide administrative offices, a large student commons area, a gallery for exhibitiing students' work and to support the Visiting Artists Program, and a large lecture room for art classes and other programs.

Individual studio spaces and offices for faculty will supplement the teaching studios. The ceramics area will have an exterior workspace for large gas-fired kilns. The sculpture space will have an exterior workspace for raw material storage, foundry for metal casting and construction of large work. Studios will have daylight or north light as appropriate for the medium being taught.

"The Department of Art is overjoyed at the prospect of housing our entire department in one building that will accommodate an increasing student enrollment, growth in studio areas, new technologies and expanding programs," says Ricki Klages, head of the UW Department of Art. "Our close proximity to the Centennial Complex will encourage more cross-over of exhibitions, visiting artists and students' use of the collections. We hope that, once we are moved into the new building, we can establish a hub of creativity that will draw visitors throughout the state and attract even more national and international art students."

Construction of the facility will begin later this month, with completion scheduled for October 2011.

The Wyoming State Legislature approved issuing revenue bonds for the project not to exceed $33 million, to be paid for by UW's share of federal mineral royalties.

Construction of the center marks continues UW's effort to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for sustainability.

"We expect the Visual Arts Center will exceed LEED Gold criteria," says Roger Baalman, director of facilities planning. "Part of the charge to the design team was to develop strategies that could provide or approach 'Zero Net' energy consumption, a difficult task with lab-type facilities with high ventilation requirements."

For detailed description of the building's standards for sustainability features, visit the Web site at

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