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At Boise State Fine Arts Center Groundbreaking, A Promise of Huge 'Cultural Thoroughfare'

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- A scale model of the new center for fine arts was on display at the May 2 groundbreaking ceremony. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • A scale model of the new center for fine arts was on display at the May 2 groundbreaking ceremony.
Boise State University President Dr. Bob Kustra had two criteria for the design of the new center for fine arts: It must look different from every other building on campus and "think Guggenheim."

Kustra and other stakeholders in the center for fine arts project broke ground on the facility Tuesday morning. When it's completed in August 2019, the 90,000-square-foot, five-story, $42 million building will consolidate the fine arts disciplines at the university for the first time since its founding.

Included in the plan is a 4,000-square-foot gallery space, studios for a variety of artistic media taught at Boise State, classrooms and critique spaces.

- University officials and other stakeholders in the center for fine arts broke ground on the project Tuesday morning. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • University officials and other stakeholders in the center for fine arts broke ground on the project Tuesday morning.
Because of its proximity to other arts organizations like Boise Art Museum, The Cabin and private galleries downtown, the center will also offer opportunities for university students and faculty to interact off campus.

"This creates the largest cultural thoroughfare in the state of Idaho," Kustra said.

Though 259 parking spaces will be lost with construction, university officials said they will be offset by two temporary lots at two locations—the corners of Granite and Beacon streets and Manitou and Beacon streets—which are currently under review by the Boise City Planning and Zoning commission.

In one of the wings of the new building will be The World Museum: an interactive virtual reality tour of world-class museums like the Louvre in Paris; the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. For Associate Professor Anthony Ellertson, who directs the Games, Interactive Media and Mobile Technology program, The World Museum is another part of the "cultural thoroughfare."

"We can provide an in-depth appreciation of what the arts mean to us," he said.

The World Museum is also a stepping stone for applying emerging technologies and artistic media. Ellertson's ambition is to make the center for fine arts home to a virtual reality film festival.

"By providing a space like this, we can build a new grammar of these [virtual reality] experiences," he said. "Boise should be a national hub for this technology."


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