Inside Kent Stark’s $9.7 million Fine Arts Building project


The Concert Band Room at Kent Stark on Thursday.

Brynn Pennell

The Kent State Stark campus is creating bigger and better opportunities for its students to succeed.

The campus’ 85,000-square-foot Fine Arts Building is undergoing a $9.7 million expansion and renovation project to accommodate the 5,000 students enrolled at the Stark.

Construction for the expansion phase of the project began spring 2017, adding 15,000-square-feet of new space. The renovation and redesign of the Fine Arts Building began spring 2018 and will add 17,000-square-feet.

The music technology program is currently the fastest growing degree program and is exclusively offered at Stark. Kent State Stark is only one of a few universities in the country to offer a bachelor’s degree in music technology. 

The expansion phase of the Fine Arts Building created two state of the art music technology studios. In addition, a new recital hall for concert band, choir and ensembles, practice rooms and a study lounge for students was created.

“From a technological standpoint, the recording and audio engineering portion of it now has everything it needs to be successful to the students who have outmoded stuff for awhile,” Coordinator of the Guitar and Ensembles Department Erin Vaughn said. “They now have a really state-of-the-art facility they will be working in comparable to what they would be seeing out in the real world.” 

In the theatre department, the renovation phase of the project includes an updated costume design area, a new sound and lighting classroom, and a “black box” theatre that will offer students to produce smaller productions. The theatre department is also updating ADA compliance features which provides individuals with disabilities to access all areas of the theatre.

In the art department, the renovation phase of the project includes a dust collection system in shop areas, an exterior sculpture production area to allow students to create sculptures in open air, two art gallery spaces and a new ceramic studio.

The expansion and renovation is funded by the state of Ohio, leftover money from construction of the Science and Nursing Building and from the Kent State Stark reserves fund.

Brynn Pennell is the regional campuses reporter. Contact her at [email protected].