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Building projects completed

Q: How is construction progressing on the new fine arts building and new student center at Hampden-Sydney College?

Construction of a new student center and renovations of the existing fine arts facility at Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) are complete, and anticipation of the buildings’ impact on the student experience is mounting.

Dr. Robert Sabbatini

“Staff have been moving into the offices this summer, and we’re excited for students to return so both buildings can be fully utilized and enjoyed,” said Gordon Neal, H-SC marketing and communications director.

The combined cost of the construction and renovation was $15.7 million.

“Between these two projects, there were 10 individual gifts of $1 million or more from individuals or organizations to support the projects,” Neal said.

The groundbreaking of the Brown Student Center took place Feb. 6, 2016, and the facility cost $11 million to build.

Dean of Students Dr. Robert Sabbatini said the new center will undoubtedly enhance the college experience for Hampden-Sydney students.

“I’m thrilled that students will have a central location on campus to socialize, eat great food, engage in group and club activities and generally immerse

Dr. Larry Stimpert

themselves in what is a fantastic community,” he said.

In a previous interview Neal noted that the building “will house the offices of Student Affairs, the Student Court, Student Government, Career Education, as well as the post office and Tiger Inn. There are also spaces for student clubs and organizations and gathering spaces.”

Sabbatini said that “having a central location for critical student services including the career center and the Office of Student Affairs will ensure that students here have better access to the tools they need to help them succeed and get the most out of their college experience.”

Another of the notable offerings found at the center is the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which President Larry Stimpert has noted “will offer our students extraordinary opportunities to hone their entrepreneurial skills and harness creativity as they confront real world challenges and develop inventive business concepts.”

Dr. Helena von Rueden

As for the Brown Student Center as a whole, Sabbatini said, “Above all, I’m looking forward to seeing how the students decide to utilize the space: after all, this student center is truly all about them.”

It cost $4.7 million to renovate Winston Hall, which has been renamed Brinkley Hall, and work on the building began mid-May 2016. The facility features the Viar-Christ Fine Arts Center.

Neal said the renovation “provided significant improvements to studio, laboratory and instruction spaces, to include replacing and improving building systems.”

Dr. Helena von Rueden is assistant professor of fine arts at H-SC, and she said the student’s experience will be enhanced and deepened as a result of the renovation.

“While the old building had a lot of character, it was not designed for the arts and all our diverse activities,” she said. “We made it work, but … we now have spaces customized to the activities the students are involved in.”

She noted that visual arts students now have a gallery in the building where they can see examples of techniques and styles they might be learning about. Also, they can matte and frame their own work thanks to an art prep room.

“We have three customized visual arts studios for design, drawing and painting, plus a digital photo lab and fully-outfitted darkroom with just the right equipment and lighting,” von Rueden said.

While art history classes had been offered in the library, she noted they can now be offered in the fine arts building’s new lecture halls. She added that several existing classrooms also have higher capacity now, allowing more students to get involved in art classes.

H-SC’s music department has been significantly enhanced, now including a space acoustically designed specifically for chorus rehearsal, von Rueden said.

“The music area went from having one classroom to five spaces, including an electronic keyboard lab featuring keyboards and iMacs — this will be used for theory, piano and composition courses,” she said. “Instrument lockers for student musicians as well as several soundproofed (rooms) allow for instrumental practicing.”

There is also a choral library, preserving works dating back at least 50 years, and there is room to add more.

Dr. von Rueden said new academic offerings made possible by the renovations include group piano courses as well as electronic music and composition classes, which will be offered in the new keyboard lab.

“A student lounge is also a great offering in the building, where students can study, meet to discuss projects and generally make connections with each other and with faculty,” she said.

As choral conductor, von Rueden said she is most excited about the rehearsal space for the Chorus.

“The ability for singers to hear each other well is very important to the effectiveness and enjoyment of the rehearsal process, so this room will have a direct impact on our ability to improve as an ensemble,” she said. “Adjustable acoustic banners in this space allow for us to change the acoustics as necessary, which is a great feature.”