VC's Fine Arts building almost finished (video)

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

March 6, 2013 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated March 6, 2013 at 9:07 p.m.

Music Professor Marylynn Fletcher rehearses with a class in a new room built with special acoustic properties for the music department.

Music Professor Marylynn Fletcher rehearses with a class in a new room built with special acoustic properties for the music department.   Frank Tilley for The Victoria Advocate

Newly painted walls and waxed floors greeted Victoria College fine arts students this semester.

A few trimmings here and there are all the newly renovated and expanded Victoria College's Fine Arts Building needs to be considered officially completed.

The college used money left from a 2006 bond project to fund the expansion project, said Larry Garrett, executive director of special projects.

The work included tearing down a 45-year-old deteriorating auditorium, expanding the existing building with larger fine arts classrooms and music rooms.

"The demolition and construction costs were right at $2.5 million," Garrett wrote in an email. "We spent an additional $250,000 on various other items such as engineering and design, furnishings and technology."

Garrett said he's glad the college was able to create improved learning spaces on a tight budget.

"Although we no longer have the very large auditorium, the college still has the Johnson Symposium Center and the Welder Center, which are large enough for the majority of the college's events," Garrett said.

The school is able to use the new VISD facility for the three or four times a year they need a large auditorium.

Amenities include an art gallery, band hall that doubled in size with additional storage space, a refurbished piano room and a choir room, said Jonathan Anderson, associate music professor.

"It's not a cluttered room anymore," Anderson said. "I also love having the opportunity to keep everything under lock and key."

A pillar greets students in the front lobby of the building where new furniture is to be placed as part of the completion, said Jennifer Yancey, vice president of college advancement and external affairs.

Movable walls, 3D-friendly projectors and gallery lighting have yet to be installed in the building's new art exhibit room, said Yancey.

Attached to the right-side of the building is an open-air, 1,500 square-foot kiln patio and work yard, where ceramics students will have better ventilation and space needed to create their wares.

To the left side of the lobby, large window panes allow a view of a green outside amphitheater, where the auditorium used to be.

Community bands have already tested the acoustics of the much larger band hall, said Anderson.

"That's what we as a community college are here to do," Anderson said. "That's something we really want to stress."

A new one-credit-hour percussion ensemble course, which is offered Thursday nights, has opened up for music percussion majors, said Anderson.

Anderson added he expects more new classes to be added in the future but first they have to finish moving in.

"We just walked into the door a month ago," said Anderson. "I'm still unpacking boxes."

Another remodeled room known as the former choir room, contains seven pianos and improved sound insulation.

Daryl McCulloch, St. Joseph High School band director and VC adjunct music teacher, guided 20-year-old Sam Hsu through a piano lesson.

Hsu, a Taiwanese native, took his first music classes at the college in the summer while construction was under way.

After taking music classes scattered across different locations, Hsu said the new building is a welcomed change.

"It's nice having all the music stuff in one place," Hsu said. "It's more convenient."

Before construction, students used three practice rooms in the Fine Arts building, but now they have 11 rooms to practice in.

Students will also be able to access the building on the weekends, said Anderson.

Even though the building is already being used, the college is planning a public open house for July, said Yancey.

As the fine arts building projects wraps up, the college is already working on other building projects.

"Our next major project is the Emerging Technology Center, which will soon enter the final design stages," Garrett wrote. "Also, we need to consider a complete renovation of the library when funds are available."



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