The college is currently working on raising the remaining $3.8 million necessary to cover the full costs of the Whitcomb Art Building.
The entire building costs about $8.9 million, according to Associate Vice President for Major Gifts Mark Wilson. Much of this cost was covered by a $5.1 million gift from Dick ‘57 and Joan Whitcomb ‘56.
“We still have a lot of work to do on that. That will have to come from private donations from alums and friends of the college and that’s where we’re at right now — getting ready to get out and travel the country trying to secure the remaining $3 million,” Wilson said.
Vice President for Advancement Beverly Holmes said that her office has received five or six gifts so far to cover the remaining costs of the building.
The idea to create a new art building began about two or three years ago, according to Chair of Art Mark Holmes. He said the art department’s space in The Ford Center for the Fine Arts, which was built in 1964, does not meet the needs of the modern art world.
“All of the arts are feeling the need to expand,” he said. “Both because we have more students coming to courses and because the way we teach and the technology demands have just changed.”
For art major and sophomore Julia Reynolds, more space would definitely be an improvement.
“There is more need for space for art history, office spaces and working studios for artists,” Reynolds said.
The only downside she sees might be that the new building will be slightly “off-campus” and closer to Borzello than to any of the main buildings.
Senior Carmen Ribaudo said that art students are in need of studio space with “good natural light, wall space and ventilation.”
She said they are lucky to have space in the auxiliary gym and the CFA, but noted the CFA does not have enough space and the gym’s basement has poor ventilation, making it smell bad and therefore inconvenient to artists with turpentine and paints. She noted the basement also has poor lighting. Ribaudo is a double major in art and psychology.
Ribaudo also said that once everything has been moved to the new building, they will be able to clear out old equipment and materials from CFA and get updated equipment and technology.
The college selected design architect Lake Flato of Austin, Texas to work on the project. Mark Holmes said that the building will have an industrial and agricultural feel to it.
“We want it to be a place of work, ultimately. So that is one of the metaphors in the building, is that it’s a place of material and physical labor,” he said.
Another goal in designing the building was to make it an interesting architectural piece that contributed to Galesburg’s downtown region.
“Something that really feels innovative, that really talks about the future,” Mark Holmes said.
According to Mark Holmes, the new building will have designated studios for design, printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture and ceramics. It will also have a computer lab, photography dark rooms, a seminar room and a 50-seat lecture hall. It will not have a formal gallery.
“That’s intentional because we think it’s important that the gallery be located more in the center of the life of the campus,” he said.
The department is interested in potentially building a gallery in the space formerly occupied by admissions in the Center for Fine Arts.
Construction on the Whitcomb Art Building officially began on Monday, Oct. 5 after the Board of Trustees gave the college permission to move forward, according to Director of Facilities Scott Maust.
Currently, the construction is focusing on digging and dirt work. In the next few weeks, concrete foundation footers will be laid and workers will start to set steel for the building.
“I’d say by Jan. 1, you’ll start to see a building go together,” Maust said.
According to Maust, the total construction costs of the building are about $6.9 million. The remaining $2 million of the total cost are referred to as “soft costs” and consist of things like design fees, furnishings and startup costs.
The college’s goal is to open the building by the start of Fall Term 2016. Maust said that there is a possibility that this date could be delayed due to inclement weather, in which case it would open at the start of Winter Term 2017.
If the remaining funds necessary to cover the costs of the building are not raised by that time, the college will finance it through other means until the final gifts are secured.
“Not everyone is going to be able to write the full amount of the check at once so some people may have two year pledges or three year pledges,” Beverly Holmes said.
Wilson said that the Advancement Office’s goal is to at least have the pledge commitments to cover the full $8.9 million by Dec. 31, 2016.
He said that the fundraising efforts for the Whitcomb Art Building are being targeted at alumni donors with an interest in art. To him, the process is more challenging than projects like Alumni Hall, which the entire body of alumni could have potentially been interested in supporting.
“There just aren’t thousands of folks out there interested or lining up to want to support the art building. So it’s much more selective, much more targeted. And probably a bit more challenging too,” Wilson said.
The college is holding a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, Oct. 16 at 3:30 p.m. during Homecoming to celebrate the beginning of construction on the building.
Maust said that he thinks starting construction could help generate alumni donations and interest.
“People see something going into the ground instead of just pictures, they get a little more enthusiastic about that,” Maust said.