Work underway on addition to Parkland arts complex

Work underway on addition to Parkland arts complex

CHAMPAIGN — Work has begun on an $8 million addition to Parkland College's fine and applied arts complex, a project that calls for a new black box theater, art studios and classrooms, expanded lobby and costume shop.

The addition will be on the west side of the campus adjacent to Parkland's existing theater.

In recent years, the community college has seen enrollment grow in several different areas, from art and graphic design to technical theater. And for years, Parkland's main theater, which is a quarter-century old, has provided the only teaching space available for acting or performance classes, said Nancy Sutton, chairwoman of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts.

"The new black box theater will provide us with a working space for the technical arts, and flexible performance space, experimental studio as well as an additional meeting space for the college and local community groups," Sutton said.

As with the current theater, the new black box will be available for rental for meetings or other events.

The total addition will add 28,000 square feet to the college; 18,000 for arts-related classrooms and studios, and 10,000 square feet for the black box.

Estimated to cost $8.1 million, including construction, interior furniture and fixtures, the addition is being paid for by general obligation bonds issued by the college in 2010. The Parkland College Foundation also is seeking donations for the complex.

IGW Architects of Urbana is the architectural firm, and River City Construction of East Peoria is the contractor.

Construction is expected to wrap up by next July, allowing for staff and students to start using the space as the fall 2014 semester begins.

Sutton said the new facilities will benefit not only the college's academic programs but community education and the College for Kids programs.

More degree students and community education students have been signing up for arts-related courses at Parkland in recent years. The number of Parkland students majoring in graphic design, currently 228, has increased 74 percent in two years, and the number of students majoring in art, currently 151, has increased 27 percent in two years, according to Sutton. Parkland's photography and technical theater programs also have seen enrollment bumps in recent years.

The department launched a new career program, Entertainment Technology, two years ago and it has proven popular as well. It incorporates art and design, sound, lighting and construction associated with not only film, stage and television but also museums, theme parks, resorts and more, Sutton said. Students take courses in art and design, welding, construction and more.

"We are seeing a great deal of interest," she said. "While the original intent was to have only a two-year career program, we now have plans to develop transfer agreements with several four-year institutions that offer four-year degrees in technical theater."

Plans also call for a larger lobby, box office area and restrooms for the current theater, plus basement storage, an expanded costume shop and "a true green room," Sutton said, referring to rooms where performers prepare before taking stage.

Department members have designed the art studios for ceramics, sculpture, painting, woodworking and more. There will also be an additional computer lab and an expanded speech lab.

The art gallery is not scheduled for any changes at this time, Sutton said, but its storage space will be increased, allowing staff to catalog and preserve the college's permanent art collection.

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vcponsardin wrote on June 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

"More degree students and community education students have been signing up for arts-related courses at Parkland in recent years."

Really?!  Wow.  Doesn't this buck the currently held belief that the arts in higher education are becoming less desirable as science, technology, engineering and mathematics become the new normal?  Perhaps someone should tell the University of Illinois...

C in Champaign wrote on June 14, 2013 at 6:06 am

I don't recall where the UI stated that they want to get rid of liberal arts programs. I do believe they are correct to "thin the heard" of some of the less desirable tracks. At a university that has a student population in the 40,000 neighborhood, classes and programs of study that consistantly draw enrollment that can be measured in the dozens, or even some in single digits, are simply not cost effective, and need to be re-evaluated.