Pomona Welcomes New Studio Art Hall

Pomona College’s art department will welcome the community to its new building, a space aesthetically and functionally aligned with the department’s work and sensibilities, next weekend.

The new Studio
Art Hall opened to classes in late September and will officially open Oct. 11 after four years of planning and construction. The
$29 million, 35,000-square-foot building provides a wide-open space for
Pomona’s artistic community to work and socialize.

Designed
by wHY Architecture in collaboration with the college and Hamilton Construction,
the space serves as a new commons for the art department and the wider artistic
community. Owing to its open design, students and faculty alike can work in a highly visible and collaborative setting.

Mark
Allen, an associate professor of art and associate chair of the department, explained
the department’s involvement with the building and the two companies.

“It
wasn’t so much ‘We
want it to look like this or that,’ but we talked to them about how we wanted
it to function and facilitate different interactions with students and
faculty,” Allen said.

With
the creation of the Studio Art Hall, the art department has been moving out
of its formal home in Rembrandt Hall. The new space offers vast improvements
over Rembrandt, particularly in openness and increased visibility.

“We
get ideas from being around other people,” Allen said.

Kulsum Ebrahim PO ’15, a studio
art major, voiced excitement for the new space.

“I really appreciate the
community that it creates due to the open space,” Ebrahim said.

Because over half of the
building’s exterior is glass, students will be able to gain insight into
the work of other classes and students.

But the building is not
strictly for art students. The open design was created with inclusion in mind
in an effort to make the arts a more visible affair on campus to attract students
from all five schools. Studio Art Hall offers spaces for
students to work in and develop community.

Associate Professor of Art
and Sculpture Michael O’Malley acted as the official representative for the art
faculty during planning. The classrooms feature furniture created by O’Malley
and his students in his Sculptural Conceptual Design II
class in spring 2014. Crafted from recycled and repurposed material, the
furniture falls in line with the building’s high standards of sustainability.

The
hall was also built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards, making it the eighth LEED-certified
building on Pomona’s campus.

Alex
Smith PO ’16, a studio art major, spoke of the possibilities in the new
building.

“The
rooms present a lot of potential for introducing new processes to art classes
such as printmaking facilities, something we didn’t have in Rembrandt,” Smith
said.

The Studio Art
Hall will host its official opening reception and open house Oct. 11. Ian Byers-Gambler
PO ’14, an intern with The Machine Project, a non-profit organization and space for artists founded by Mark Allen, was heavily involved in the curation and preparation for the opening
day in collaboration with art department faculty.

“The
idea is to bring in artists to do projects in all the different spaces that can
represent to students what the capabilities of the building are,” Byers-Gambler
said.

A
dedication ceremony will kick off the opening day at 1:30 p.m., and the open house will continue from 2 to 8 p.m. Curated by Allen, the opening day will include a display of art projects by faculty members and students, dance and music performances and a tour of the new building. 

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