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Boise State Set to Begin New Work of Art

Officials are ready to break ground for a five-story, 97,222-square-foot fine arts building on Tuesday, May 2.

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It has been four years since Boise State University announced ambitious plans to build a new fine arts center on its campus. A year and a half later, artist renderings generated buzz when planners revealed they would build the center with limestone (similar to the Idaho State Capitol building) and a large expanse of glass jutting out onto Capitol Boulevard.

Now, officials are finally ready to break ground on the five-story, 97,222-square-foot building, with a ceremony scheduled for Tuesday, May 2.

Currently, the Boise State Department of Art is scattered across seven buildings on campus. For instance, photography or sculpture classes might be in the Liberal Arts Building, while illustration or painting students may have to make their way to the Arts West building. The new fine arts building will encompass them all. In effect, it's two buildings in one: a five-story bending limestone structure will house studio spaces and administration, while a more narrow addition featuring giant glass windows framed by blue-stained steel will be home for classrooms and galleries.

"Its slenderness is purposeful in accentuating the building's height," said Scott Henson, of Boise-based LCA Architects. "The upper slender section will be filled with glass from floor to ceiling but set back to control the western sunlight. During the day, the building's interior will be a gathering and critique area for students at all levels but, at night, it will become a beacon for the arts on campus, with the light flowing out onto Capitol Boulevard."

The price tag for the project tops $42 million—$5 million is expected to come from Idaho's permanent building fund, while millions more have been raised from private donations. Additionally, Boise State officials say naming rights for the fine arts building could attract a donation of up to $20 million.

The building will rise from what is now a surface parking lot between the Micron Business and Economics Building and the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.

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