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Seigfred Hall, which holds the School of Art, Feb. 19, 2034, in Athens.

College of Fine Arts facilities will undergo interior renovations

The College of Fine Arts renewal strategy is a project set to renovate, relocate and reconstruct buildings within the college to revitalize arts education across campus and the Athens community. 

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution in June to redesign the College of Fine Arts facilities. The project includes a complete interior renovation of Seigfred Hall, transforming the five-story building into a multi-faceted facility to house the six schools – Film, Music, Theater, Dance, Interdisciplinary Art and Art and Design – that make up the College of Fine Arts. 

The renovations will also include adding a new building, the Patton Arts Center, featuring a 400-seat theater that can be utilized for theater performances, music concerts, dance concerts and film showings; there will be a large performance and rehearsal space that opens to the outdoors so performances can be shown indoors and outside. 

Interim Associate Vice President of Design and Construction Jonathon Cozad said the project is currently in progress and is starting with the design effort. He said major construction will begin in early 2025, with initial work scheduled for this year. 

He said the goal is to complete the project and occupy the space by 2026.

The project has a projected cost of $94.2 million, with $50 million from the Violet Patton estate and $36 million from Century Bond and State Capital, according to a university news release. 

Cozad said the construction scheduled for this year includes facilitating Swing Space, which is space to move people out of while their permanent home gets renovated. 

Chief Strategy of Operations and Facilities Officer Cimmeron O’Connor said a task force was created specifically to develop Swing Space and ensure students’ experiences function without any disruption to their new learning space. 

“We still want to make sure that that temporary space is meaningful and impactful for their educational experience,” O’Connor said. 

Julie Dummermuth, director of the School of Art and Design and associate professor of painting and drawing, said the space will not only serve as a collaborative outlet for students in the college but also allow for more participation from the audience.

“This envisions new parking, being able to come in and being able to see a theater show, a dance production, an art exhibit, all sort of in one,” Dummermuth said. “That influence upon how we even digest the arts, how we even think as creative people, and as humans, this is so important.”

Investments are also planned for Glidden, Sculpture Studio, the Ridges and surrounding green space. 

Dummermuth said Seigfred has over 50 years of no maintenance. Professors are working with buckets of water dripping next to them, artwork on the floor damaged from flooding, cold and heat damage to works and lack of storage.

Dummermuth said once Matthew Shaftel became the dean of the College of Fine Arts in 2017, he made efforts to revisit the plans to renovate parts of the facilities and advocate for the university to address these concerns.

“It became not just about updating Seigfred, but really kind of looking at a larger plan and vision for updating all of these (run down) buildings,” Dummermuth said.

O’Connor said the College of Fine Arts is on the cutting edge of the digital world with digital art and technology, so updating the infrastructure allows these programs to grow and have a space on campus. 

However, students have shown apprehension about the remodeling. An Instagram account named goodbye_seigfred started as a collective archive for the art inside the hall.

“I hope that they're able to preserve or at least photograph and memorialize some of the art that's been there for a very long time,” Kianya James, a freshman studying graphic design, said. 

The College of Fine Arts is actively seeking ways to preserve the culture of Seigfred and recreate it within the building’s new spaces, O’Connor said.

“I think we are really kind of taking us forward into a place where we envision not only how people can interact with the arts and develop within the arts, but in future, what does it look like ten years from now,” Dummermuth said.


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