The third time might be the charm when it comes to renovating the engineering shops for the LSU School of Art, according to School of Art Director Rod Parker.
According to Parker, the new plans include extending courtyards and adding a covered sidewalk through the middle of the building for a critique space that students can walk through or go around.
The approximated $12 million project will be paid by a bond commission, Parker said.
Parker said the renovation of the engineering shops has been a long process. Currently, everything that is needed to bid the job is in place, he said, and plans must be submitted to be approved by the state legislature in April.
Two previous proposals for the renovation were halted due to budget concerns, Parker said.
Dean of the College of Art and Design Alkis Tsolakis said the walkway will help connect the campus.
“It is the gateway of the historic campus to the new campus,” Tsolakis said.
The first and most important renovation will be revamping the heat, vents and electricity in the building, but the building is currently the root for steam tunnels that power the campus, so the utilities will be moved to a different site, Parker said.
“The plan for the building is to restore the building, not to gut it out and make it look like any other building. It needs to be what it is — a 1920s and 1930s big industrial building,” Tsolakis said.
The renovation will be completed depending on the starting point, Tsolakis said. Once the project is approved, the University will immediately begin to search for a contractor.
Ceramics graduate student Jenny Hager said she spends 12 to 14 hours a day in her engineering shop studio and the building needs the renovation.
“We are in desperate need of kiln repair. If they are not working, we just can’t do our work,” Hager said.
Landscape architecture junior Ace Martin said he spends several late nights in his studio.
“I personally want more lighting for late night walks back to my car, because you can’t park in the Lockett lot,” Martin said.
Tsolakis said he was not involved in the planning process, but he has reviewed the plans and is confident they will accommodate all students and faculty.
Last year, The Daily Reveille reported on the safety concerns of former student Ashley LeBlanc after she said a man broke into a studio during finals week.
“All the concerns of everyone who is going to be working in that building are addressed,” Tsolakis said.
In the engineering shop, Hager particularly noted the system’s sole ventilation system — a fan near the ceiling — and said ventilation is needed when working with ceramics.
Hager said the University’s ceramics program is ranked among the top 10 in the nation, and the program has the potential to rank higher if it has better facilities.
“This is a project that has been discussed for a long time. The administration is clearly committed to solving this problem for students,” Parker said. “LSU is the flagship university of the state. It should have an art school to match, to compete not only for the best students, but provide a flagship destination for Louisiana students.”