Facility Focus (The Arts: Theaters, Dance, Music And Visual Arts Spaces)

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith: Windgate Art & Design

 Windgate Art & Design

PHOTOS © RACHEL PUTMAN, UAFS PHOTOGRAPHER

With 58,000 Square feet and state-of-the-art facilities for visual arts students, Windgate Art & Design at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (UAFS) in Fort Smith, AR, is a centerpiece of both the UAFS campus and the Fort Smith community. Opened in September 2015, the $15.5 million facility was constructed through a private gift from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

The three-story building, designed by WER Architects and constructed by CDI Contractors, complements UAFS architecture and the campus setting as a visually engaging design. A Bauhaus-influenced window design on the building front, nocturnal choreographed light elements on the east wall, and strategically placed exterior sculptures complete this vision. Interior windows look into studio spaces and allow observation of the creative process. A wing of faculty offices and workspaces promote unity and accessibility for faculty and student interaction.

An industrial aesthetic pervades the building through exposed utilities in the ceiling and concrete floors. Modern and contemporary art and furnishings greet visitors entering the first-floor lobby. A large commissioned mural in the entryway adds to the university’s collection of drawings, paintings and sculptures by regional, national and international artists. The main gallery features exhibitions by noted artists, and a second gallery offers additional exhibition space.

Art programs housed in the building include Studio Art and Graphic Design with accommodations for papermaking, letterpress, printmaking, drawing, painting, 3D design, photography, motion design, web design and art history. Extensive hallways on all three floors of the building include panels and spaces to showcase student work.

Dedicated art history classrooms and a 150-seat film theater have multipurpose use for teaching, presentations, readings, lectures and film. A small library and study provide additional resource for students.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.

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