Pomona College is preparing to build a new studio art building to replace the studios currently housed in Rembrandt Hall. The new facility will be located on the existing parking lot between Seaver Theater and Pomona’s baseball diamond.
According to Vice President and Treasurer of Pomona College Karen Sisson, “Studio Art is very cramped” in Rembrandt’s facilities.
“The needs for studio art are so great that a renovation for the purpose of keeping studio art in [Rembrandt] does not make sense,” Sisson said.
She said the college also decided to construct a new building because “any renovation project would need to be particularly sensitive to Rembrandt’s historic status as one of [American architect] Myron Hunt’s original campus structures.”
Bob Robinson, Assistant Vice President and Director of Facilities and Campus Services, is overseeing the project. The project planning committee also includes Sustainability Director Bowen Close and Associate Professor of Art and Sculpture Michael O’Malley, who is acting as the official representative of Pomona’s art faculty during the planning stages. Additional members of Pomona’s art faculty, community, and staff are also heavily involved.
After a three-step selection process, Pomona College trustees, faculty, and staff chose wHY Architecture, a firm based in Culver City, to design the building. Planning is still in the early stages, but after completion of the planning phase, the college will need to obtain a series of governmental approvals before construction teams can move in. There is no fixed date for the start of construction.
The new studio art building is one of many projects funded by Pomona’s new Daring Minds fundraising campaign, which is scheduled to raise $250 million for Pomona College by 2015. A project with a $10 million price tag, the studio art building is one part of the campaign’s initiative to enhance critical facilities, which is predicted to cost $68 million.
According to Sisson, “Pomona is committed to having state-of-the-art facilities for all of its academic programs.” She said that the college identified the needs of studio art some time ago, and it is important to improve the department’s facilities.
The creation of this new building is also part of an overarching plan to get rid of parking lots on Pomona’s campus and use the new space as construction sites for campus development. According to Sisson, the plan involves “reducing access for cars in the heart of campus, creating more walkways, making remaining streets more bicycle-friendly, and reducing the number of parking spaces in the middle of campus,” the goal being to “make Pomona’s campus more pedestrian-friendly and sustainable.”
Sisson said that parking space won’t become a problem, since students and faculty will be able to park in the existing Cowart Parking Structure (also known as the ITB—Information Technology Building), the Harrison lot (located between Peter Stanley Academic Quad and Carnegie and Hahn), and two new structures for student parking. Sisson said that there will be a new parking garage below Athearn Field on North Campus that “replaces the parking spaces that were removed to allow construction of Sontag Hall and the other new North Campus residence hall.” The other new structure is the South Campus parking structure and athletic field, under construction behind Mudd-Blaisdell. It will open roughly 650 parking spaces for use in March 2011.
Pomona staff have scheduled “stakeholder meetings with the various campus constituencies in the next few months to make sure the location and number of spaces is responsive to student, faculty, and staff needs with particular emphasis on those with special needs and disabilities,” Sisson said. “No final decisions will be made until this input has been gathered.”
Sisson said she is “hopeful” that “Pomona’s studio art facilities will finally reflect the talent, creativity, and intellectual integrity of its art faculty and students.”
Art students have also expressed enthusiam about the new studio art building.
“I’m very excited about the new art complex,” said art major Leah Steuer PO ’11. “The faculty have been keeping our department apprised of the planning process—they’re working with a cutting-edge architecture firm and trying to incorporate student input concerning the space and its facilities. Once it’s finished, art students at Pomona and the 5Cs will be able to enjoy some awesome new equipment, studios, and classrooms.”
However, Steuer also expressed hope that the new building would the maintain the same atmosphere as the studio art facilities in Rembrandt.
“I love Rembrandt’s intimate and quirky feel,” Steuer said. “Hopefully this new environment will not only raise the profile of the department, but act as a comfortable place to learn and create.”
Students who have taken Pomona art classes and have suggestions for the new studio art building should e-mail them to Associate Professor of Art Mercedes Teixido at firstname.lastname@example.org.