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2009 News Releases
Longwood breaks ground for Bedford Hall addition/renovation
November 18, 2009
Longwood University's Bedford Hall, the home of the Art Department, will be more than tripled in size and extensively renovated in a project that is now underway. (View the artist renderings below)
Ground was broken Nov. 17 for a long-awaited project in which Bedford will be expanded from 22,936 to 71,492 square feet, have nearly twice as much studio space, be better equipped, and look vastly different both outside and inside. The addition will extend the building's north side toward and behind Wygal Hall (the parking lot behind Wygal will be removed) and extend its front toward Brock Commons, aligned with the front of Wygal.
"Bedford will not look like Bedford," said Bob Chambers, who is overseeing the project for Capital Planning & Construction. "There will be a glass wall facing Brock Commons through which you'll be able to see artwork. Also, there will be extensive landscaping to the front of the building facing Brock Commons. This is not a minor renovation; it's a major renovation."
The project will resolve space-related issues that have become more acute as the department has grown. There will be enough space in some studios for several pieces of art equipment to be used simultaneously, more storage space for student art projects, and effective ventilation systems, ensuring the safety of students who handle chemicals and use the kiln.
"Studios will be much bigger, and there will be new equipment, which will be monumental for us," said Erin Devine, chair of the Art Department, which has 176 majors in seven concentrations. "Plus, we will be able to add technology. This will be a firstclass building. Anytime you have a new building with new equipment, what you're able to produce and what you're able to teach are helped immeasurably. Having the newest university art facility in the Commonwealth should also be significant in terms of student recruitment. We'll become more viable as an art program."
The work will be done in two phases. The addition, whose shape Chambers likened to a "broken L," will be done first, followed by the renovation of the existing Bedford. The addition is scheduled to be completed in late April 2011 and the renovation in late summer 2012.
"Longwood has grown just a bit since Bedford was built in 1970, and the original design did not consider the evolution of the art world, including digital and electronic formats," said President Patricia Cormier just before she and others dug up the first shovelfuls of earth. "The time has come to provide our students, and our faculty, with an up-to-date building that befits the quality of the program that we offer. This building will enable us to put the arts on display, which has been a priority for me across campus and is critical in our art department's home."
Perhaps the new facility's most distinctive feature is a glass-walled student and faculty gallery in the addition in front of Bedford. The area outside the building also will be impressive. There will be a reflecting pool immediately in front of the gallery, intended as a visual extension of the gallery, and the adjacent wall of the Bedford addition will be a combination of a glass curtain wall and perpendicular glass fins lit by underwater lights that project out over the pool. "The building and the reflecting pool will be tied together visually," said Chambers. "You won't be able to tell where one ends and the other begins."
In a second water feature, where the ceramics patio juts out from the front of the existing Bedford, there will be an active water fountain consisting of a series of stainless steel tubes mounted vertically. Water will be pumped up through the tubes and discharged through a stainless steel scupper. "This will create the effect of a wall of water," said Chambers.
The project will turn a two-story building into a three-story building. The extra floor will be created by excavating in front of the current building down to the ground level of nearby Wygal Hall. The area to be excavated will extend toward Wygal beginning at the current sidewalk from the front of Bedford to Brock Commons (the path of the sidewalk will become a hallway in the new facility). All sections of the addition will be three stories, with the second- and third-story elevations matching those of the existing building.
Faculty members will remain in the existing building during the work on the addition. Once the addition is complete, most faculty will vacate the existing building and move to the addition during the renovation. When the renovation is done, some faculty will remain in the new part, while others will return to the confines of the existing, but extensively renovated, building.
"It will be a nice transition for most of us," Devine said. "Areas that will need to be relocated during the renovation are graphic design, photography and art history."
There will be three lab facilities in which graphic design classes will be taught (currently there is one) and a multipurpose studio for visiting artists, which doesn't exist now. Ceramics will be on the ground level; printmaking, a state-of-the art auditorium and administrative offices on the first floor; and papermaking and photography on the second floor. Faculty offices will be scattered throughout the building.
"We're at capacity right now in this building in terms of space for faculty and students," Devine said. "Having enough space in studio classes is particularly important because of what is done in those courses, where the instruction is often hands-on and one-on-one. Students will have more room to do the work they need to do, and they'll be able to use different kinds of equipment simultaneously, which they can't do now. Compared to other disciplines, art students spend a lot more hours beyond class time in this building."
The project will provide muchneeded space in non-studio classes as well. "For art history, which is my field, there is currently no classroom; classes have always met in the auditorium, which is cavernous," Devine said. "The new building will have an auditorium for art history as well as a classroom that can also be used for art history seminar and art education classes."
A breezeway will be built between the south end of Bedford and the Center for Communication Studies & Theatre, in an area now occupied by an elevator lobby in Bedford. The current loading dock in the rear of the building will be expanded and will be able to accommodate tractor-trailers, which now have to unload at Central Stores.
The contractor is Costello Construction of Maryland Inc., based in Columbia, Md., and the architect is the Virginia Beach office of Moseley Architects, which also designed the rebuilt Grainger Hall and the Health & Fitness Center. "Due to market conditions, we received a good price on the project and came in under budget," said Chambers. The project is being financed by a General Assembly bill passed in April 2008 that provided funding through the sale of taxpayer-backed bonds for construction and renovation projects for higher education, among other things.
"Dr. Cormier, who first listed the renovations in a 1999 capital planning and construction budget plan and recognized that the building was in desperate need of overhaul, has made this day possible with the sheer determination of her vision," said Devine.
Both the new construction and the renovated portions are designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards, including sustainable features in lighting, glass, windows, insulation, sensors and roofing. The exterior will be red brick and glass with a steel structural system painted white where exposed. The interior décor will be aluminum and glass.
Dr. Helen Warriner-Burke, rector of the Longwood Board of Visitors and a 1956 Longwood graduate, called the groundbreaking "an occasion to celebrate one specific aspect of the university in which it truly excels, the force of art within the Longwood community. One doesn't have to take a course to appreciate art at Longwood; one only has to walk down Brock Commons or up High Street to know that it imbues the campus, the life, the ambience of the school. Whether it be tasteful landscaping, classic building design, the LCVA, sculpture on the mall, dazzling galleries, or the department itself, Longwood University conveys the value that art has for our lives."
The front entrance to Bedford has been closed. Wood-paneled fencing was erected around the front of the building in early November.
The building is named for the late Virginia E. Bedford, who taught art at Longwood from 1928 until 1972. She chaired the department from 1942 to 1970.
Artist Renderings of the new Bedford Hall
The following artist renderings are courtesy of Moseley Architects