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The Daily Tar Heel

Architects Present Renovation Ideas For Arts Common on North Campus

Architects Duncan Hazard and Peter Mullan from the firm Polshek Partnership gave the 24-member committee an overview of potential changes on the northwest corner of campus known as the Arts Common. Committee members include students, local merchants and faculty from the Department of Art, the Department of Music and the Communication Studies Department.

The presentation summarized the needs of the fine arts departments, including additional teaching labs, classroom space, storage space and faculty offices.

"In the arts departments, they don't have typical classrooms," said architect Ashley McClaran. The preliminary plans include large increases in the spaces for art studios, music rehearsal halls and communications production areas. "That's just something that these departments need," McClaran said.

The renovations are just one segment of the University's Master Plan, a 50-year blueprint for campus growth. This committee is focusing on the section of campus between Cameron Avenue and Franklin Street and from South Columbia Street to the edge of McCorkle Place, as well as Playmakers Theatre and Gerrard Hall. This is the sixth week of the project's planning stage, which will take about 48 weeks, Hazard said.

Specific proposals under consideration include doubling the gallery space in the Ackland Art Museum and creating on-campus rooms for beginning studio art classes, which are now taught at the art lab on Airport Road. Mullan said the lab's current location might prevent students from taking those classes.

The plans also include renovations and additions to the music department. "Hill Hall is not particularly suited for music instruction or performance," Mullan said. He said many music classrooms are overbooked because they double as rehearsal spaces. "We're talking about creating some dedicated rehearsal spaces, which will free up some classrooms," he said.

Mullan said a plan to combine the music and art libraries has received almost universal support and will allow both departments to improve services.

The meeting ended with a short presentation by Dennis McGlade, a landscape architect from the Olin Partnership, who detailed ways to incorporate the renovations into the landscape. "We hope to retain most of the large trees -- they, in a marvelous way, most artistically confuse the eye in a way the everyone finds pleasant," he said.

In late April, the committee plans to set up a table in the Pit with more information and to hold a meeting for students to comment on the plans, officials said.

McClaran emphasized that these plans are very preliminary. "These are still are really loose numbers."

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