Having approved design construction documents for a new theatre and studio arts building, the Board of Trustees on June 2 authorized the officers of the college to enter into a contract with Charles A. Gaetano Construction Corp. of Utica to build new studio arts and theatre facilities in an amount not to exceed $46.8 million. Construction will begin this month and completion of the building is expected in summer 2014.
New facilities for the visual arts and theatre departments have been among the top priorities for the Bicentennial Initiatives campaign. Hamilton recognizes the need for spaces in which students can explore and create, teachers can lead and engage, and alumni and the community can share in the life of the imagination.
A key part of the new facilities is a unique kind of studio art space — large common areas for classes and exhibitions, smaller workshops and studios surrounding those areas, and a new interdisciplinary, digitally based Studio for Trans-media Arts and Related Studies (STARS). The combined spaces far surpass the offerings of the List Art Center, which was originally built in 1970 and renovated more than 15 years ago.
The core areas in the new studio art facility will be common areas: large classrooms for a new Foundations course and for drawing, and an exhibition space that can be used for critique sessions and where students will share their work with the campus and community audience. Instruction at Hamilton is highly personalized. Intensive, one-on-one studio experience in which professors serve as both critics and advocates requires dedicated spaces designed and located with the needs of the discipline in mind.
Surrounding the core areas will be workshops, studios and support spaces for painting, printmaking, sculpture, woodworking, metals and ceramics, photography and other media.
The new theatre will enable the department to expand its productions and provide students with vastly improved performance and teaching venues. Currently, the lack of adequate wing space and fly space in Minor Theater severely limits the plays that can be produced and the manner in which they are staged in this facility. In addition, cramped and ill-equipped scenery and costume shops make the teaching of technical theatre difficult and constrain the kinds of sets and costumes that can be constructed. The lack of a smaller teaching theatre makes the teaching of directing and other performance-based classes difficult.
The College’s theatre productions consistently draw full audiences from the campus community and the region so the new building will accommodate larger audiences. The new building will include a fully equipped, flexible theatre (175 seats), with support spaces and dressing rooms, that will accommodate various types of productions from any culture or period.
A smaller laboratory theatre (100 seats) will be used for senior projects, class projects, guest artists and some public performances. This space is largely student-driven.
A studio space, equipped with seating, lighting and sound equipment, will be used to teach courses having a performance element. An adjacent seminar space will augment the studio space so that classes can move between them without disruption. Support spaces will include scene and costume shops as well as storage areas.