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Department ofArt and Art History

About the New Building

By Blake de Maria

We are pleased to announce construction will soon begin on the new Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building. This new, 43,000 square foot facility will be located on the north side of campus, on Franklin Street directly across from Alumni Science. Spanning from the Alameda to Alviso Street, the building will be the cornerstone of an arts-focused area of the Santa Clara campus. The move to Franklin street will place the Department of Art and Art History in close proximity with the other Fine Arts departments on campus, including Theater and Dance, Music, and Communications as well as the de Saisset Museum.

In addition to reuniting the Art History and Studio Art programs in one structure, the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art and History building not only significantly expands our instructional capabilities, it likewise includes a number of innovative features. Designing a space to accommodate the creation of art in the 21st century required a re-envisioning of our instructional approach. A prime example of this shift can be seen in allocation of space on the ground floor. The level will accommodate the creation of works in 3-D, including the Sculpture studio, Ceramics studio, and Tool Shop. However, we recognize that creativity in 3-D dimensions expands beyond actual objects to the virtual world. Thus, the ground floor also boasts "Virtual Canvas," a large scale digital display to be programmed and maintained by our students as well as the "Imaginarium" an innovative classroom that will be optimized for digital 3-D projects. This space will allow Studio Art students to create and display work the digital work they have created and offer Art History students the opportunity to experience virtual walkthroughs of the spaces they are studying.


The second floor includes two dedicated art history classrooms which will be equipped with digital display on three walls and flexible furnishings to accommodate variety in instructional techniques. Faculty research space also will housed on the second floor, notably offices and studios, as well as an informal learning space in which students may study and socialize between classes. We are very excited about the opportunities afforded us by two specific spaces on the second floor, a dedicated photo lighting studio and a large artist's studio. The latter will be used by visiting artists. Just as the ground floor was devoted to 3-D art, the third floor accommodates the instruction of 2-D media, including painting, drawing, photography, printmaking and graphic design. Two dedicated computer classrooms will allow us the opportunity to increase our offerings in digital art and photography.

Considerable space has likewise been created to accommodate the display of art from all media. A sculpture by Dale Chihuly will be located in the entrance foyer. Additional large scale sculpture will be on display in an exterior sculpture garden. The ground floor and third floor likewise have dedicated spaces for the exhibition of student work from all media. Finally, a 1,600 square foot gallery, featuring professional lighting and fittings, will serve as an exhibition space and venue for public presentations. In the spring quarter, this space will be the focus of our most important student events: Senior shows and the annual Art History Student Research Symposium.


The design of the building involved various groups on campus, including of course, department faculty under the guidance of Form 4 Architects. Form 4 designed a structure intended to complement the University's existing architecture while simultaneously honoring our two disciplines. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the Pantheon-inspired dome which crowns the southwest corner of the building. This nod toward antiquity's preeminent example of design and engineering sits atop two state-of-the-art computer classrooms creating a beautiful fusion of past, present, and future in the arts. We look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful new home sometime in 2016.

March 2014