Art department awaits studio openings

Art students and faculty are primed to use a new computer lab and painting studio on the fourth floor of the Smith Hall of Art. University officials are awaiting a certificate of occupancy as construction workers put final touches on the 1,760 square-foot space.

“The computer lab was built because it was the one thing we didn’t have in the department,” said Jeff Stephanic, associate professor of design. “Computers have become such an important tool for artists, especially those in the field of design.”

Both rooms are on the fourth floor of the five story building, which houses the departments of fine art and art history. The lab will house 23 new Apple computers for students taking courses in graphic design. The painting studio, to be used by graduate painting students, will provide space for four to six students to set up individual studios.

Thom Brown, assistant professor of painting, said although more spaces will be allocated to graduate painting students, no more were admitted to the program this year and enrollment is “holding steady.”

“We really needed more substantial space for the graduate classes,” Brown said. “We’re all quite anxious to get into the new studio as our graduate painters have been working in very cramped conditions.”

Crews added the rooms by enclosing two already existing outdoor terraces. GW construction manager Warren Yaun, who oversaw the renovations to the 30-year-old building, said he and his team constructed three new walls and a roof over the existing flooring to enclose each area

The outdoor terraces were typically a place for art students to relax and occasionally hold class, Brown said. Several terraces remain on the third floor of the building.

Yaun said the rooms are “substantially complete” and will open as soon as the University receives the routine “certificate of occupancy” from the city.

Clarice and Robert Smith, for whom the Smith Hall of Art is named, donated the money for the additions. Officials declined to specify how much the construction cost.

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