Creative Arts Building finally opens doors to students

By Caroline Klapper | Jan 07, 2013
Photo by: Caroline Klapper Fiber Arts instructor Amy Putansu organizes thread on selves in the newly completed Creative Arts Building.

Seven months after the original estimated completion date, the new Creative Arts Center on Haywood Community College’s campus finally has students and teachers filling its hallways and classrooms.

The process of building the new facility has been a long one with numerous change orders and several design oversights causing delays and pushing back the building’s opening from May 2012 to the start of the school’s spring semester on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013.

“We’re just excited that we’re finally there,” said Director of Campus Development Bill Dechant. “The students are just thrilled about it.”

The $8.3 million center was financed with proceeds from a quarter-cent local option sales tax approved by county voters in 2008 to address building needs at the college. The new facility was built to replace the Professional Crafts Building and provide additional space for expanded programs.

“We think the building will help us increase our curriculum and our enrollment just because of the space and how nice it is to be in there,” Dechant said.

Once everything is moved out, the old Professional Crafts building will be torn down.

“It really has no value for the college anymore, and it’s not in good enough shape for us to feel like it’s worthwhile to renovate,” he explained.

While the new building provides much-needed and updated space for classes, costly design errors and change orders, such as the unexpected need for a fire pump and the defaulting of several subcontractors, pushed the building’s completion date back several times.

“I think, overall, the contractor has attempted to keep himself on track, but sometimes, projects do that and it’s not a linear thing. It’s an exponential thing,” Dechant said of the delays.

Negotiations are still underway to determine what credits the college will be able to get back from the contractors, and Dechant said it will take a little time to figure out the final total cost of the project.

But in the eyes of many of the teachers and students, the new building is an appreciated improvement over the overcrowded, out-of-date Professional Crafts Building.

“We love it. I love it. The students who have been helping me unpack this week love it already,” said Amy Putansu, a Fiber Arts instructor in the Professional Crafts department, who was at work preparing for class last week.

Aside from the extra room the new building affords teachers and students for classes and workspaces, Putansu is thrilled with all of the natural light in the building.

“The light is so wonderful and bright and natural,” she said pointing to the large windows throughout the room. “And everything has a place.”

The old building had few windows and was definitely over crowded, she said, which wasn’t very functional.

“Things are greatly improved in the new building,” Putansu said. “They’re going to function just so much better.”

In the meantime, construction crews are still completing a few “punch list items,” but they are “nothing that’s impacting classes,” Dechant said, adding he hadn’t had any complaints about the center after the first day of classes.

“Things are going very smoothly,” he said. “The place looked great.”

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