New Art Building Set to Open in November

This November is the planned opening for the new Joan and Robert Rechnitz Hall Art Building on campus. The building, currently under construction, will boast 20,340 square feet of classrooms and faculty offices as well as a three-story gallery. Robert L. Cornero, Associate Vice President of Campus Planning & Construction explains that the construction had a delayed start because of waiting on approval for last minute changes. These changes included the structuce, technical issues, heating system, lighting revisions, foundation revisions, ceiling revisions and different trim and tile patterns.

The project was no small undertaking with numerous different people working on the building since construction began. “We have averaged approximately 15 workers per day since the project started last December,” said Cornero. “At first there were heavy equipment operators and laborers, then there were concrete masons, then iron workers and so on,” he said.

During the last phases of the project, Cornero says they have been using more contractors who specialize in finishing trades, such as carpenters, electricians, tin knockers, tile setters and painters.

The new larger gallery is planning to be the center piece of the building with classrooms and offices around it. This will give everyone who enters the building a chance to see not only the works of students, but also outside artists.


According to Ed Johnston, Specialist Professor – Animation, Department of Art and Design “one of the first exhibitions in the new building will involve artwork inspired by the influences of the old building.” Incorporating the old and the new gives everyone who enters the building a chance to experience the new while appreciating the old.

“The new art building will be a huge asset both to the students and to the faculty. Students will have more space, more equipment, and better access to the gallery, lecture rooms and state of the art equipment. The flow of the curriculum, acoustics, lighting, space and flexibility of the studios will all be improvements in the new building,” said Pat Cresson, Department of Art and Design, Departmental CAP.

The process of selecting art for the new gallery will be similar to that of the previous building. It will include decisions from the department, Gallery Committee and Gallery Director as well as others. Art and Design students, faculty and any outside artists can all apply to have their work displayed in the building.

Though the Joan and Robert Rechnitz Hall Art Building may not open for another few months, students can look forward to an improved experience once the building opens for classes.

These many enhancements include spaces designated primarily for computer animation and motion graphics classes, according to Johnston.

He also says that the new art building will include places for students to record sound, set up and record video for motion graphic projects.

“The elegance and flexibility of the new galleries, lecture halls, studios and labs will enrich everyone’s experience. It will draw more important exhibits and better house our collections and make them available to all on campus. Although we have sentimental feelings about the old beloved art building, we can’t wait to get into the new facility,” said Cresson.

The building is going to be an addition to the already growing campus with other building remodels having taken place over the past few years like Edison and Elmwood Hall on the residential side of campus.

“This amazingly generous donation by Joan and Robert Rechnitz will greatly enhance student learning at the University. With the expanded gallery we can bring exhibits previously not possible, thanks to increased space and security, elevating the gallery to a better teaching resource,” said Andrew Cohen, Art and Design Chair. “We are extremely grateful for this gift,” he said.

“My opinion, and this is only my opinion, is that the building has to work as designed for its occupants and visitors and it has to add to the beauty of the campus. It is going to be part of the campus for a long time. I think this building will do that and more,” said Cornero.

For those who cannot wait for the official arrival of the new building, there is a video of the current construction process that can be found on the University’s website planning/artbuilding.asp.