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New Initiative Focuses on Revitalization of Arts Spaces

February 2021
Art and Music Buildings on the Quad at the University of Washington

In the background the Art (left) and Music (right) buildings frame the eastern side of the Liberal Arts Quad.

The University of Washington has begun a conversation about the critical importance of the arts on campus and in Seattle, and how to harness the transformative power of the arts for UW students and the community.

Through the Arts and Creativity initiative, Divisional Dean of the Arts Catherine Cole seeks to make the arts a part of every student’s time at the UW, regardless of major. Achieving this goal involves curricular innovation, outstanding programming and cutting-edge, flexible spaces.

Through a collaboration between the Office of the Provost, College of Arts and Sciences and private supporters, a new campaign will revitalize spaces in the Art and Music Buildings on the UW Seattle campus.

The project is estimated to cost $14 million, with each building costing roughly $7 million. The university will invest $10 million, with $4 million coming through private philanthropic support.

With a strategic focus on the student experience and reach of the arts on campus, President Cauce, Provost Richards and Dean Robert Stacey have identified the Art and Music buildings as top priorities for renovation and strategic enhancements. The Art and Music buildings, located at the apex of the Quad, are home to the two biggest schools in the Arts Division: the School of Art + Art History + Design and School of Music. These schools account for three quarters of the arts enrollments in the division, serving arts and non-arts majors alike. They were constructed nearly 70 years ago and since then much about the disciplines of art and music has changed.

Renovations in both buildings will create more open, flexible and contemporary spaces for collaboration, creative expression and artmaking. The projects also offer opportunities to match the built environments with the current needs of faculty and students while creating accessible, inclusive spaces, expanding artistic representation and welcoming broader audiences.

An important component of the Art Building renovation involves the relocation of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, named for one of the preeminent American artists of the last century and former UW faculty member. The Jacob Lawrence Gallery will move to the opposite corner of the building, allowing for improved traffic flow and visibility, as well as the creation of new spaces for gathering and study.

The new Jacob Lawrence Gallery elevates the prominence and place of the space, expands campus and community engagement with the gallery’s important programming, and prepares vital arts spaces to support boundary-pushing art for years to come. Other renovations in the Art Building provide flexible and visible spaces for creative engagement in art and design. 

In the Music Building, the campaign also includes significant modernizations to Brechemin Auditorium on the first floor, transforming a lecture hall into a recital hall on the second floor, and updating corridors and common spaces. These updates will  improve acoustics and technological capacities, and create a more welcoming and accessible environment for students and the community.

For more information about the Arts Facilities Campaign please contact Stephanie Kornfeld, Director of Advancement for the arts at kornfs@uw.edu. Maps and renderings included below provide a preliminary glimpse of the new spaces and are subject to change as projects commence. 

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Read more about the renovations at the School of Art + Art History + Design.

Jacob Lawrence Gallery gathering space rendering

As part of the renovation of the Art Building, a new gathering space with outdoor access will be added to the relocated Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

Interior of the renovated Jacob Lawrence Gallery

Rendering of the new Jacob Lawrence Gallery, designed to provide more flexible space for exhibitions.

Art Building ceramics studio

The renovations in the Art Building also include a new ceramics studio with more natural light.

Brechemin Auditorium renovation

In the Music Building, Brechemin Auditorium will be renovated to improve lighting, seating and acoustics. 

Renovated recital hall in the Music Building

A renovated recital hall will provide a more flexible space for programs and classes.