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Upgrade on the horizon for Art and Music Buildings

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The Art and Music Buildings, located at the north end of the Quad, are receiving a long-overdue revitalization in the coming years. 

The project is estimated to cost $14 million with each building costing roughly $7 million. The university has committed to investing $10 million, according to Catherine Cole, the divisional dean of the arts. Private donations will account for the last $4 million. 

Renovations will occur in two phases, according to Cole. Construction on the Art Building will begin in early 2022 with completion planned for early 2023, and revitalization of the Music Building beginning after the Art Building. 

Leaders in the art community have been trying to get this project off the ground for six years, according to Cole. Support from the provost and the dean were crucial. 

“That’s what’s different this time, to have our provost really come out and be a core funder of this project,” Cole said. 

Cole says the Art Building revitalization includes relocating and revamping the Jacob Lawrence Gallery to make it more visible, creating a gathering space for students, and constructing a new introductory ceramics studio. Without climate control or proper exhibition lighting, the Jacob Lawrence Gallery is underutilized, according to Jamie Walker, the director of the School of Art + Art History + Design.

Jacob Lawrence was a prominent Black figure in the American art scene during the 20th century. He painted scenes of American history from a new and diverse perspective, according to the gallery. Lawrence taught painting at the UW during the 1970s and ‘80s.

“Part of it also is to raise the profile of the gallery so that it really respects the legacy of Jacob Lawrence,” Walker said. 

The Music Building is also receiving an upgrade. The Brechemin Auditorium will see a significant renovation with new seating, a larger stage, and more advanced technology to suit the needs of the space, according to JoAnn Taricani, the director of the School of Music. The project will also renovate a multipurpose classroom and recital hall on the second floor to increase accessibility and functionality. 

“I just think that bringing the building into the 21st century is just going to be a great thing for our students,” Taricani said. “They’re performing at such high levels, the room needs to be at the same high level.” 

The Music Building also holds public recitals and community events, so it needs to be a space that accommodates everyone, according to Taricani. 

“We really are inviting people in from any place to come and see what our students are doing,” Taricani said. 

The two buildings have notoriously been neglected over the years; the last renovation was in the 1960s, according to Walker.

This project is a considerable undertaking, but one that Walker says will showcase how central arts are to the UW. 

“The commitment from the university is real,” he said. “This is really significant money that the university is investing in this project, and it's because people actually understand and believe and want to support the fact that the arts really are important to the educational mission of the University of Washington.” 

Reach contributing writer Anna Ergeson at Twitter: @annaergeson

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(1) comment


Hopefully this will include some upgrades to the restrooms in the Music building. I don't know anyone who likes using them.

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