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The Daily Tar Heel

Architects Share Plans for Arts Common

Polshek Partnership Architects, a planning and architect company from New York, was hired by the University in early December and has been working on planning the Arts Common, the second wave of UNC's Master Plan, since February.

Duncan Hazard and Peter Mullan from Polshek Partnership sat in the Pit area at noon Thursday to answer questions and gather ideas from students.

"We're very interested in student input," Mullan said.

Polshek Partnership was hired to plan the Arts Common -- 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.

Hazard and Mullan have been meeting with the arts-related departments on campus to determine what the program needs are. "What we've done so far is programming -- talking to the users about what they need," Hazard said. "The next step, which is starting now, is to locate the new programs and decide where new buildings would be appropriate and where to fit in parking."

Hazard said they will design additions to some buildings and build some new structures. Some of the existing buildings, especially smaller ones such as Porthole Building, Evergreen House and West House, might be taken down to make better use of that space, he said.

Hazard and Mullan also said they hope improving the Arts Common will help unite the University with the town of Chapel Hill. "We hope that this area will be kind of a bridge between the University and the community," he said.

Hazard said the Arts Common is an important improvement for the University and the community because there is not enough performance space on campus.

Steve Allred, associate provost of academic affairs, is chairman of the Arts Common Planning Committee, which is made up of graduate and undergraduate students, representatives from the Chapel Hill Town Council and local business owners.

Allred said that Polshek Partnership has already finished the inventory of existing space and that the committee is discussing what the departments would like to do with that space.

Polshek Partnership will produce a blueprint for development that will determine the positioning of buildings and parking for Arts Common by the end of the year, he said.

He also said there will be more green space in Arts Common with the development of underground parking.

"It's an exciting venue for the dramatic arts that both serves the community and the students," Allred said.

"This is the time for students to get involved," he said. "As we start moving toward decisions, we want student input."

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