HCC's premieres new Professional Arts and Crafts building

By Caroline Klapper | Feb 22, 2013
Photo by: Caroline Klapper Students Becky Burnette, front, and Amanda Kuykendall work on projects in the jewelry crafting studio.

What most people notice when walking into the new Professional Arts and Crafts Instructional Facility at Haywood Community College for the first time is the light.

It's abundant in both natural and electrical forms, and it is one of many things that meet with the approval of the students and teachers who have begun to study and work there.

Creative Arts Department Chairman Terry Gess said he believes the new building isn’t just a better place to work but that it is also a place where students can create better work.

“I already can see the difference in the caliber of people’s work and it’s early to say that,” Gess said while wandering through the vast facility. “We were doing well despite the building we were in, but now we have a space that really encourages students to develop as craftspeople.”

The former Professional Crafts Building Gess refers to was outdated and overcrowded and unable to adequately serve the volume of students coming through the arts and crafts programs. It became apparent that replacing the old building with a new facility needed to be one of the college’s top priorities when a master plan for the campus was created in 2006.

“It identified a new facility for the creative arts as the No. 1 need for the college,” said Director of Campus Development Bill Dechant.

The new building, financed with the proceeds from a quarter-cent local option sales tax, is spacious with four major studio areas for fiber, clay, jewelry and woodworking crafts.

The facility will also be LEED platinum certified by meeting the strict guidelines of the environmental program. Dechant said there are many unique kinds of green technology incorporated into the building, including a solar water heating system and a lighting system that dims or brightens in response to the amount of sunlight in a room.

“I think everybody seems to be really happy with it. The students and teachers absolutely love this place. The spaces are really light and open and make great studios,” Dechant said. “Naturally, in a building like this, there’s always little things to work out, but we’re really pleased with the performance so far.”

The public will have the chance to view the facility and look at the work produced by students at HCC during the building’s grand opening, starting at 11 a.m. March 1 in the HCC Auditorium with the Dedication Ceremony.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 12:15 p.m. at the top main entrance of the Professional Arts and Crafts Instructional Facility, and a dedication of the Mary Cornwell Gallery, where students’ work will be on display.

From 1 to 7 p.m. people are invited to explore the building and watch demonstrations and participate in hands-on activities in each studio. At 2 p.m., Catherine Ellis, a former HCC Professional Crafts Fiber instructor, will give a lecture.

Tours highlighting the building’s green technologies will take place at 1, 3 and 5:30 p.m. Parking is available in the lower level of the Student Services parking lot, and shuttles will run all day to the new building.