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Cleveland Institute of Art to break ground on final phase of an eight-year, $63.5 million expansion

Posted May 16, 2013 in Articles

Author: Steven Litt

The Cleveland Institute of Art will soon go to bid on the final chunk of an eight-year, $63.5 million expansion and renovation in University Circle.

On Tuesday, trustees voted to go ahead with the $33.5 million second phase of the project, which started construction in 2009 with the $30 million Phase I renovation of the Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts at 11610 Euclid Ave.

A groundbreaking for the second phase is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, and construction is to be completed by September, 2015.

On Thursday, the Euclid Corridor Design Review Committee enthusiastically approved the Phase II design, which calls for a four-story, 79,000-square-foot addition to the McCullough Center, a building designed by the legendary industrial architect Albert Kahn in 1916 as a Ford Model T factory.

"This will provide a competitive facility that will be a jewel in Cleveland's crown," said Grafton Nunes, the college's president since 2010.

The expanded and unified art college is a key element in the $150-million-plus Uptown development, which includes the new Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. New housing for art institute freshmen is now under construction in the Phase II portion of Uptown's residential component, led by developer MRN Ltd. of Cleveland.

The art institute project will include a new, 300-seat theater for the popular Cinematheque, the city's leading, non-profit repertory movie theater. A new Reinberger Art Gallery is also part of the project.

Nunes said he's raised $27 million for the next phase of construction, and that he's confident another $1.5 million will soon be in hand.

He also said he'd like to expand the ultimate fund-raising goal to $66 million to provide a boost to the college's endowment, recently valued at approximately $27 million.

Since the 1980s, the art institute has operated a two-part campus split between its Gund Building at 11141 East Boulevard, opposite the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the McCullough Center, located a half mile to the east.

The institution launched its consolidation in 2007 by hiring the star architect Winy Maas of the hot Dutch architecture firm of MVRDV to design the project.

The effort then hit numerous snags, including the worst recession since the Depression, and the revelation in 2008 that the Maas expansion design, which called for a steel-framed structure hunched in the middle like a giant inchworm, would be too costly.

The Philadelphia architecture firm of Burt, Hill, originally hired to help realize the Maas design, became the lead designer.

Maas stayed on the team to design a vinyl banner system that would have wrapped a large portion of the Burt, Hill fa ade, effectively masking that firm's work -- and perhaps making an ironic comment on the architectural turnabout.

Nunes, who succeeded David Deming as the art institute's president in 2010, killed the banner idea, calling it an idea that was "state-of-the-art for 1980."

Instead, he directed the architects to design a 35-by-50-foot "media mesh" digital panel that will display artworks by students, faculty and invited artists.

Nunes also expanded the square footage of the McCullough expansion by 25 percent, and eliminated a sloping roof garden. The cost burgeoned along with the added square footage, but Nunes said he cut $11 million from the budget to bring it back within the institution's reach.

Nunes eliminated a proposal for raised flooring to accommodate computer wiring. He cut an elevator from the plans, and had the architects replace large areas of glass on the building's west fa ade with insulated metal panels to reduce energy costs.

The architects, whose firm is now called Stantec, refined their facades to add colorful geometric patterns in blue glass and dark blue brick. The addition will be named the George Gund Building, in honor of George Gund II (1888-1966), the famous Cleveland banker and philanthropist and longtime supporter of the art institute.

The final, $63.5 million project cost is $8.5 million more than the $55 million budget originally envisioned under Deming.

But Nunes was able to land major gifts for the project including $5 million each from the Gund Foundation and from philanthropist Peter B. Lewis, whose donation was his largest in Cleveland in a decade.

The art institute also earned $9.2 million by selling its 4.1-acre East Boulevard site to the Cleveland Museum of Art and Case Western Reserve University. Neither institution has said what it intends to do with the property.

Nunes said he'd like to increase enrollment at the art institute from 540 this year to between 600 and 650 and eventually start graduate programs, possibly in industrial design and medical art, two traditional areas of strength at the college.

Ultimately, he said, the expansion and renovation "will be a cultural contribution to University Circle and to Cleveland and will provide a first rate training and art-making facility."

Original Article: http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2013/05/cleveland_institute_of_art_to.html#comments

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