DANBURY, CONN. — The speeches were delivered and the ribbon was cut, but the excitement is just beginning.
On Sept. 4, 2014, more than 200 people including students, faculty, local legislators, the city mayor and a former governor (and alumna) participated in the ceremony at Western Connecticut State University that officially opened the new School of Visual and Performing Arts Center.
“Days don’t get more special than this,” said WCSU President James Schmotter, a stalwart of the project from its early design days. “Years of imagining and imagination became reality. It has revitalized and reenergized this campus.”
Schmotter also called out for a hand to Emerita Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Carol Hawkes, who retired several years ago at 89 after nearly 25 years at the university, for her part in bringing together the three departments – music, theater and visual arts – into one school.
“This destination is part of a larger journey,” Schmotter said. “But it’s what happens inside the building … that’s where the magic really takes place.”
And, as Dr. Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, pointed out, the building was constructed on time and under budget.
“This went right,” Gray said about the $97 million project that had its ground breaking in 2011.
Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Dan Goble told the crowd of people who eagerly awaited the moment when the taut red ribbon on the steps of the metal-and-brick building was cut that the plan was 40 years in the making from conceptualizing to planning and design.
“We are now responsible for the stewardship of an incredible building,” Goble said. “It is a true gift to Western and the region.”
As Dimeo Construction’s Anthony Dematteo pointed out, the incredible building is constructed of 1,400 tons of steel and 105,000 bricks – 10 miles of brick end-to-end. Noting the enormity and grandeur of the center, he said workers excavated, stored and relocated more than 32,000 cubic yards of soil and mixed 5,300 cubic yards of concrete.
Nestor Bottino, of Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, called the center an “assertive building” and not just in its glorious and massive appearance. He said the center asserts art education, the role of architecture in an environment that encourages arts, and the commitment of the people of Connecticut to public higher education and art in public higher education.
“The faculty and administration had a clear vision of what they wanted the building to mean,” Bottino said. “We gave it distinct shape and character. Now our job is done. It’s up to the faculty and students to perform and enjoy this faculty.”
More than 50 percent of the state’s public art and music educators are graduates of Western Connecticut State University. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a WCSU graduate, said that WCSU’s original mission was to teach the teachers and that the new building is carrying on that tradition and bringing it to another level.
“We will make a better generation and better people because of this building,” Boughton said. “We will be molding the future generation to appreciate the arts.”
Just as the crowd moved toward the stairs for the final act of the ribbon cutting, Schmotter reminded everyone that it “takes a village,” but in this case it took a city or a megapolis.
“The future looks really, really bright,” he said.
For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.