Students debate renovations to the Art Building

Aaron Kinney

It’s no secret the Art Building has received mixed reviews over the years.

It’s no secret the Art Building has received mixed reviews over the years.

“I just think the building has a lot of character,” senior English major Gabz Ciofani said. Ciofani added that, like other campus locales, the Art Building needs work.

“The materials that were used in 1972 have degraded,” said Christine Havice, director of the School of Art. “So the exterior appearance is not particularly pleasing — it looks like it’s run down.”

Looking past that, Havice said, the translucent materials in the walls do add a certain beauty to the Art Building. During the day, sunlight casts a pale glow over the interior, while at night, if people are working inside, the building glows.

However, there are difficulties with insulation, particularly in the winter, and leaks have been a big problem in the Art Building, Havice said.

Havice said the flat roof leaks regularly, and it’s been replaced at least once in the six and a half years she’s been director.

“I heard there was a guy who had a system jerry-rigged so water leaking in went out,” Ciofani said. “That was just hearsay, though.”

Turns out, Ciofani heard right.

Jennifer Allchin, a Kent State alumna, was an art education major working in the Kent State Apple Store until she graduated last semester. Allchin and other students jokingly called the makeshift drainage system the “iTarp.”

“They affixed a tarp to the ceiling and sealed a hose to it,” Allchin said. “Any water the tarp would catch would go into the hose and be drained outside.”

Leaks aside, Allchin said the Art Building grew on her between her sophomore and junior years. Most days that she had class, Allchin was in the building between eight and 10 hours a day.

Christopher Powell, sophomore painting and drawing major, also said he grew attached to the building.

“I love the architecture and how it’s not just ‘square,’“ Powell said. “Every room is unique.”

Powell said he’s not put off by the interior’s exposed architecture, which Havice said was part of a modernist statement popular in the 1970s and early 1980s.

“I grew up working with my father,” Powell said. “He would do construction … so I’ve learned to love architecture.”

University architect Michael Bruder said the building’s architecture can be detrimental to classes.

“There’s classroom spaces over there that literally don’t have walls to the corridor, and so it’s pretty hard to teach class,” Bruder said. “I don’t think it’s the most conducive teaching environment.”

Havice said the open plan of the building allows “both noise and particulate matter as well as odors” to circulate freely.

Bruder and Havice both said the Art Building has a “great location” with its central position and proximity to the Esplanade. However, both said renovations are important to the Art Building.

As for whether students can expect renovations or a replacement, both Bruder and Havice said they won’t know until after the Board of Trustees reaches a decision.

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Aaron Kinney at [email protected].