Updates and Important News on CVAD Facilities

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Dear colleagues,

I am writing to update you on some items and inform you about new events regarding our college facilities.

Presently, we are ironing out the remaining issues in our newly constructed building while renovations progress in the original main building. I am thrilled to share that we have hired the team of VAI & Machedo/Silvetti to design and build an additional new space (“CVAD II”) to be located in close proximity to our main facilities. A timeline for stakeholder meetings to offer input for this new project will be forthcoming.

While this has been an exciting, epic time of change for us, our growth has brought with it difficult decisions because of limitations on budgets and space allocations. This has forced choices to be made within uncomfortable timelines and without the preferred amount of discussion ahead of implementation. With the primary consideration being our current and future students, resources will continue to be allocated to the best of our ability and for the college as a whole.

As I stated at the start of this year my baseline has been, and will continue to be, to prioritize the overall strength of the college. That means that our Foundation and Graduate programs must have their needs addressed. After that, priorities have been and continue to be established through the program planning process – first for the main project and very soon with the second ‘CVAD II’ project.

What follows is an update on where we stand today with each of our allocated facilities and how various programs, students, faculty and staff are, and will be impacted moving forward.

Original Building
Renovation has uncovered several concerns that were critical and needed immediate attention. During demolition we discovered unexpected issues within the structure. These include air leaks, damaged ductwork, disconnected pipes and additional asbestos abatement. While renovation projects always budget for the cost of unforeseen issues, our additional items will now delay project completion by about one month further into Spring 2019.

We have secured all classroom space needed to continue through the Spring 2019 semester without cancellation to any of our published schedule. Currently displaced faculty will continue their current officing scenario into Spring 2019. A plan is in progress to ensure access to stored office materials ahead of the start of the Spring semester and messaging will be forthcoming on this. Once renovation is complete, staging of faculty moves into new office spaces will be coordinated. We do not plan to offer a significant level of coursework in the original building during Spring 2019.

Oak Street Hall
Currently, we use approximately 21,400 square feet of the first and second floors in Oak Street Hall, which was originally constructed as a residence hall in 1947. Our current use is for graduate student studios, the Ceramics concentration and the Cora Stafford Gallery.

The building has undergone numerous renovations and additions in the last 70 years, yet as it is an old and aging building several significant concerns remain. Because of the scope of repairs needed and in the interest of providing the best and safest learning environment possible for our students, I have advocated for, and UNT has determined that it is best to now build new facilities (‘CVAD II’).

In my remarks to the college at the start of the Fall 2018 semester I stated that we would be expected to vacate at the end of Spring 2019. However, I have been informed we are expected to vacate these facilities at the end of this semester and that the move out is to be completed before the start of Spring 2019 semester. Therefore, Studio Department Chair Professor Lake, Associate Deans Ligon and Baxter and I met with a team from UNT System to develop a proposal. That plan has just been approved by our administration and will be implemented immediately. The plan is:

  • As of Spring 2019, graduate students will relocate on an interim basis from Oak Street Hall to Oak Street Annex, Welch Street Complex Building 1 and, until Fall 2019, Bain Hall.
  • The Ceramics concentration will temporarily continue to operate in Oak Street Hall, including use of the kiln yard.
  • The Cora Stafford Gallery will be made available for programming through Spring 2019. As of the opening of the original building, programming that had occurred in The Cora Stafford Gallery will transition into new space in the original building.
  • As areas of Oak Street Hall are vacated they will be permanently removed from service in anticipation of a demolition process.

Oak Street Annex
This space has housed the operations of PRINT Press, an institute that reports to the Dean. I have previously suspended use of the space by PRINT so an advisory group could consider a possible reframing of operations to address issues of sustainability. A report was delivered to me and I have been considering options. At this time those options have changed significantly. The space must now be converted into graduate studios during the Winter break to accommodate a number of students who will be vacating Oak Street Hall. I intend to place the equipment from the annex into storage to create time for consideration of next-steps for PRINT press. I have spoken to the Director of PRINT, Faculty and Staff in the Studio Art Printmaking area, in addition to the Studio Department Chair to inform them of this situation. We will continue to discuss ways in which to support curricular opportunities and the completion of a print edition that is currently pending.

Upon completion of the ‘CVAD II’ project, the space in the annex will no longer be assigned to CVAD and it will become an asset of the University.

Welch Street Complex
In order to accommodate the number of students vacating Oak Street Hall, areas of Welch will be converted into graduate studios over the Winter Break 2018. Existing faculty offices will be used for graduate studios and those faculty will adopt the same protocols as their “hoteling” colleagues until they can move into their new office spaces upon completion of the main building project. The University intends to end CVAD operations in Welch Street upon completion of the forthcoming ‘CVAD II” project.

The Texas Fashion Collection will remain in place. I continue to look for opportunities to find a permanent, archivally appropriate home for the collection and this will remain a college priority.

Bain Hall
Graduate students will continue their use of studios until such time as space becomes available in the Welch Street Complex. This will likely be Summer 2019. At that time Bain Hall will no longer be assigned to CVAD and will become an asset of the University.

As previously stated, the new construction will involve discussion with stakeholders and input will, of course, be welcomed as planning proceeds. In my prioritization of our graduate programming, a primary need for this space will be adequate studios for our graduate students granting them a permanent home and an environment that is competitive for recruitment to, and promotion of, our graduate curriculum. The second priority is a home for our Ceramics concentration. Once these needs are met, if budget remains, we will consider other opportunities to support the overall growth of the college.

In August I told the college that the workaround our facilities “has been and remains hard for everyone”. I also told everyone that these decisions keep me awake and often frustrate me. I have no doubt that what I am writing here may be frustrating to you – and that is not good. And, that is not what I wish for you as an individual, or for us as a college. However, we operate with constraints. That was made clear with the difficult decision for the Fibers concentration last Summer. Constraints on both space and budget are now with us again.

I also stated in August that we did not arrive here overnight. I said then, “A lack of long-range planning resulted in decisions being made over many years without consideration for the greater good of the College as a whole.” I cannot fix the past. However, I assure you that along with Chairs, Associate Deans and the University and System administrations I am committed to the betterment of a learning experience for our students – one that occurs in safe, adequate and appropriate facilities.

In order to make that experience real we must make decisions – sometimes painful ones. Everyone in the college has been incredibly patient, supportive and pragmatic so far and I am sorry that we now have to go through this again. I recognize that this means that we do not get all of what we want. I share your disappointment in this situation.

Please know that I remain available and continue to welcome any conversation with you about any and all aspects of this message. Just e-mail me directly – greg.watts@unt.edu and we can set a time to talk.

Best Greg Watts, Dean & Professor
College of Visual Arts & Design