The School of Art and Visual Studies is soon to have a new home. The Lexington-based firm Omni Architects was commissioned to renovate the interior of an historic building erected in 1899 as a Leggitt & Meyers tobacco processing plant. Located at 236 Bolivar Street, the building had been recently renovated as an apartment complex under the name "University Lofts." Over 20,000 square feet larger in useable space than the School's current studio home, the Reynolds Building, the "Lofts" building is much more structurally sound, with concrete floors throughout. The buidling has two wings: the west wing, built in 1917, is a two story structure with a central axis lit by skylights. The original east wing built in 1899 is a four-story structure sited perpendicular to the west wing. It will house the administrative offices, the digital media labs, the gallery, and faculty and student studios. The 1917 wing houses many of the traditional art studios and possesses high ceilings, wide passageways, lovely light and space for all types of media interaction and exploration. At UK we have a tradition of both faculty and students creating ambitious, large-scale work in installation, performance, sculpture, ceramics, painting and drawing because of the scale of Reynolds' work spaces. With the Bolivar building this tradition will continue to grow.
The new home of the School will be a 21st century research laboratory that fosters collaborative, interdisciplinary projects. Student and faculty studios will be housed in close promixity to state-of-the-art new media labs, a multipurpose 3-D fabrication lab, a photography suite, a ceramics facility, printmaking shop, wood shop, metal shop, as well as drawing, painting and design workshops. There will be spaces that foster experimental and cross-disciplinary conversations and critiques. Faculty and students should find the Bolivar Building to be both larger but also more intimate than the Reynolds Building and without Reynolds' structural and environmental issues.
In addition, the Bolivar Building is just on the edge of campus, near the College of Education, surrounded by ample parking, and in the heart of an entertainment and restaurant row. The School will be in short walking distance from microbreweries, burger and pizza joints, diners, Korean, African, Mediterranean, and Indian bistros, just to name a few.
The renovated Bolivar Building is scheduled to open as the new home of the School of Art and Visual Studies in the summer of 2015.