Last May Graceland University President John Sellars, Community of Christ President Steve Veazey, Graceland Board of Trustees Chair Ken McClain, and donors JR and Carol Shaw, scooped the first shovels of earth at groundbreaking ceremonies for the expansion and renovation of the Shaw Center.
A few months later the $16 million project is moving ahead quickly toward a planned dedication at Homecoming 2012.
The building’s metamorphosis comes after the largest single gift in university history from JR, a 1956 GU graduate, and Carol Shaw. The Shaw family funded the original Shaw Center, dedicating it to JR’s parents, Francis and Lottie Shaw, in 1982.
Dedication ceremonies will take place October 19-21 during a weekend-long Homecoming extravaganza featuring a stream of entertainment, both home-grown and from around the world. The new Shaw Center is going to be a very busy place, both during Homecoming Weekend 2012, and for many years to come.Graceland Facility Services Director Kurt Remmenga says Shaw development is progressing well. The project is expected to be completed by August 7th. The final touches will be made to prepare for fall 2012 classes starting August 28th.
Kurt describes the new Shaw Center as actually four pieces, with competing architectures and varied roofs. The four main architectural components include a 6,000-square-foot atrium and lobby, projected to be “dried in,” as Kurt says (with the interior protected from the weather) by March 13th; a north-facing corridor and art gallery, also projected to be dried in by March 13th; a 100-seat recital hall, projected to be dried in by March 16th; and an experimental black box theatre, to be dried in by March 27th.
Portions of the project are already completed. The parking lot between the Shaw and Higdon Administration building is currently being utilized as the construction preparation area and will be removed toward the end of the project, making way for a small amphitheater and extended campus quad. Consequently, a new parking lot (North Events Parking Lot) was constructed east of Graybill Hall. The large lot opened for 2011 Homecoming weekend.
“As I watch progress from the third floor of the Higdon Administration Building, it is amazing to see how quickly the Shaw is taking shape,” President Sellars said recently. “The transformation of our campus is dramatic.”Upon completion, the Shaw promises to be one of the Midwest’s premier centers for the Fine Arts. Some features include a 625-seat auditorium with orchestra pit and state-of-the-art audio visual and lighting capabilities, a sprung vinyl floor movement studio, new music and theatre classrooms, and an outdoor amphitheater.
While the surrounding campus may seem a bit muddy and messy in coming months, between the Shaw project and the upcoming Fitzgerald Fitness Center project, this period of construction will usher in a new era where Graceland can offer students on its Lamoni campus and regional residents truly world-class facilities. Graceland is now positioned to join nationally-known, fine arts-focused universities like Luther College in Iowa, Concordia College in Minnesota and Oberlin College in Ohio. And, most importantly, the Shaws are creating a stunning space for our students to enjoy and relax in, to explore their passions in, and to grow and learn in.
Lee Bash, Special Consultant for GU Visual and Performing Arts, captures the importance of the Shaw transformation in this way: “It will strengthen our commitment to the liberal arts and enhance our focus on the visual and performing arts. It is then that Graceland will identify its commitment to excellence and provide a world-class venue for quality performances.”
To see regularly updated photography of the Shaw’s construction you can visit our Graceland Facebook page.
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