Besides the 15,000-square-foot addition, Kent State University at Stark also is renovating another 17,000 square feet of its Fine Arts building.
JACKSON TWP. For Kirk Baglia, a senior music technology major at Kent State University at Stark, the regional university’s newly expanded Fine Arts Building has given him the tools he needs to thrive in his internship in Nashville this summer.
“I love it,” said Baglia, who is from Akron. “The (sound) board is insane. … It has anything you pretty much need to make a pro record.”
On Thursday, The Canton Repository joined a media tour of the expanded Fine Arts building, which opened to students and faculty roughly two months ago after nearly a year of construction. Besides the 15,000-square-feet of new space, the university also is renovating another 17,000 square feet of the building. Renovations are expected to finish in time for classes this fall.
Here’s five things to know about the $9.7 million expansion and renovation project:
1. This is the second time the Fine Arts building has been expanded. The building, which was constructed in 1972, began with 65,000 square feet to accommodate 1,800 students. When enrollment reached 2,500 in 2004, Kent added 20,000 square feet. Today, each of the campus’ 5,000 students takes at least one class in the building, prompting the 15,000-square-foot expansion.
2. The jewels of the expansion are the creation of two music technology studios, where students, such as Baglia, can create, record and produce music and sound.
Brian Gardner, senior facilities manager, said the building needed two studios due to the popularity of Kent State Stark’s music technology program, the fastest-growing degree program on campus. This year, 86 students have enrolled in Kent's program, which is only offered at the Stark campus. Gardner said the lower-level studio is intended for beginners, while the first-floor studio has the advanced technology for professional productions.
3. Musicians now have more space to practice and rehearse. The facility, which once had five practice rooms, boasts more than a dozen group and individual practice rooms, each constructed with thick walls to keep sounds and vibrations from disturbing neighboring rooms.
Erin Vaughn, lecturer of music who also coordinates the studio ensemble and electric guitars, said the additional space is ideal for the commuter campus because most of the students likely do not have sound-proof practice space at home.
4. The renovation phase of the project will provide the theater department with updated costume design areas, a new sound and lighting classroom, a new multi-use rigging system and a “black box” theater that will allow students and the community to produce smaller productions.
In the art department, the renovations will include a shop area dust collection system to address air quality issues in the sculpture studio, exterior sculpture production area that will allow students to produce sculptures in the open air while also allowing people to view the production from the outside, the construction of a ceramics studio and the addition of two interior art gallery spaces where students and the community can hold art exhibitions.
5. The facility, which was funded in part with taxpayer money, also will be used by community groups.
Kent State Stark said some of the partnerships it is exploring include bringing children associated with the local YMCAs to campus for art projects; collaborating with the Canton Museum of Art to bring exhibitions to the new visiting artist gallery; continuing open auditions to the public for theater performances and concert band; and working with the Canton Symphony, Voices of Canton and Pro Football Hall of Fame for possible events.
Funding for the expansion and renovation project includes a $1.5 million appropriation from the state; $1.5 million that was left over from construction of the university’s Science and Nursing building, which was completed in 2015; and $3.7 million from Kent State Stark’s reserves with the remainder coming from private donors.
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