Goodbye Reynolds, hello air conditioning

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By Kyle Bigelow and Lydia Emeric

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Faculty and students of UK’s School of Art and Visual Studies now have a new space to create art and master their craft — the new Art and Visual Studies Building was unveiled to the public 10 a.m. Tuesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Transplanting SA/VS to a safer, more modern facility is the latest improvement in the university’s $1.8 billion master plan to give its campus a facelift.

“When you look across the campus, you can see transformation on nearly every corner,” President Eli Capilouto said. “We’ve got a new student center coming, modern academic buildings, residence halls, dining facilities and soon a distinctive multidisciplinary research building.”

The Bolivar Art Center — converted from a loft complex that was originally a tobacco warehouse — boasts 275 linear feet of exhibition space, a ceramics facility and a 3D printing lab.

“The building is visually open,” said Ruth Adams, the associate director for SA/VS. “It is a warm, inclusive, and welcoming space.”

In a press release UK said the Bolivar Art Center’s predecessor, Reynolds Building #1, suffered significant structural problems and needed to be replaced. The Lexington Herald-Leader published a story in 2011 concerning a thin layer of dust particles throughout the building.

The old art building was formerly a warehouse for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and was built in 1917.

“This building represents maybe the most extraordinary example of contemporary adaptive reuse in our city today,” said Mayor Jim Gray, who explained the Bolivar Art Center once helped to grow Lexington’s tobacco industry and wring in national brands. “Today, the building has the opportunity to attract creative and talented faculty and students.”

In the press release UK also said the old building was originally supposed to be a temporary facility for the art school but it was housed there for 40 years.

Unlike the former art building, the Bolivar Art Center has updated facilities and a modern feel — it also has functioning water fountains and air conditioning. The dean of the College of Fine Arts, Michael Tick, said it also designed to be safer than the old building.

“When I first walked into the new building, I felt like I was going to an art school in some huge city like New York or San Fransisco,” said Cameren Flanagan, an art studio sophomore.

All art majors have 24 hour access to the building, while other students who take an art studio or art history class may only enter the building until midnight.

Thousands of interdisciplinary students will pass through the open, well-ventilated state-of-the-art facility as part of UK’s core curriculum, and it will provide non-credit training for the Lexington community.

“When you enter this building, everything is intentionally laid out, which makes it easy for us students to know where to go, where to be and to see what everybody else is doing,” said Tom Baker, an art studio senior. “It’s a wonderful creative environment.”