At the end of 2012, the University officially completed and welcomed all 20,340 square feet of the Joan & Robert Rechnitz Hall. It is now home to the Department of Art & Design as well as the Principal Art Gallery, a reception area, three state-of-the-art MAC labs, an animation and editing studio, several classrooms and faculty offices and a student lounge which overlooks the 600 building courtyard.
The building was officially inducted to the University Sunday, January 27 with the dedication ceremony for Joan and Robert Rechnitz. The commemoration, which allowed room for a brief speech from the founders of the building, Joan and Robert Rechnitz, was followed by a gallery viewing of the “Faculty and Friends” exhibit. This was a show which featured the works of over 57 artists from across the nation including, but not limited to present and former faculty, alumni and several artists who had showcased their works at the University over the years.
The show even held pieces completed by Joan Rechnitz herself when she attended the University.
When asked about what she thought of the now finished project, Joan Rechnitz could not help but smile. “It is gorgeous, a little fancier than we thought it was going to to be, but I think that it will encourage students to make their own masterpieces. The fun will happen,” said Joan.
Dr. Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Art and Design Department, shares Joan Rechnitz’s awe of the building that now houses his division. “This is an amazingly beautiful place to work and learn. Students I’ve spoken to are happy; even take pride, in the specialness of this environment. The building is new and there are still a lot of adjustments that need to be worked out, but that is not a problem whatsoever,” Cohen said.
Cohen went on to mention the benefits the building now offers beyond the aspects of improved spatial arrangements. On top of the building offering a better place to preserve, create, and showcase works, as well as offering more students job opportunities in the art department, he explained how it could potentially draw in more prospective students.
“While some of our studios are still in the 600 area, Rechnitz Hall gives us a more centralized presence as a department and as a focal space on campus. I believe when potential new students see the building they will conclude that art and design is valued at Monmouth and [they will] want to be part of the positive energy and learning taking place here,” Cohen said.
That positive energy appears to be working rather well as noted by President Paul G. Gaffney II. He has observed the delight from, as he puts it, “every student, every art student, and every art faculty member” who “loves this building,” which he jokingly admits is a great feat- to have the president, the students and the faculty all liking the same thing.
Gaffney described how the “good vibes” are stretching beyond the campus itself. He remarked about the large turnout of wonderful individuals from the community, who had donated to the university before at the “Faculty and Friends” show and how they were taken back by the University’s new addition.
Gaffney also takes a particular sense of pride in the fact that the building itself was finished on time and, most importantly, on budget with the majority of the funding being based off of donations and the rest of the cost covered by the University- yet with no additional financial burdens placed on the students.
When it comes to the new art building not many students are complaining. Sophomore graphic design major Daniel Kwon agrees with the positive reactions over the structure. “It’s really cool to see what it finally looks like done. I used to kind of dread going to my art classes because they were really cramped. Now I kind of get psyched to go inside and take my studio classes,” said Kwon.
Ashley Martinez, sophomore fine arts major, said, “The building looks amazing and the parking lot right next to the building is super convenient. Now I don’t have to lug my portfolio all over the parking lot and campus just to get to class. It is a beautiful thing.”
Although Joan Rechnitz thinks it’s going to be great for the University and great for the art students and the professors, she does request that, in a manner true to her humor, that perhaps in the future they might have a gallery full of chairs so that people finally have a place to sit.