BENTONVILLE -- The newest building at Northwest Arkansas Community College came about from a willingness among many to compromise and cooperate, according to the college board's chairman.
Dozens gathered Friday to celebrate the opening of the Integrated Design Lab, a $5.5 million building made for students pursuing an education in art, construction or design.
Northwest Arkansas Community College has opened four buildings over the past decade:
• 2019: Integrated Design Lab, 18,500 square feet
• 2014: National Child Protection Training Center (renovated building), 16,500 square feet
• 2013: Center for Health Professions, 83,000 square feet
• 2010: Shewmaker Center for Global Business Development, 42,000 square feet
Source: Staff report
The initial idea, which administrators pitched three years ago, was a building focused solely on the arts. Administrators began to consider alternatives when the idea met some resistance from others in the community.
"We said, 'Wait a minute, why don't we think bigger,'" said Joe Spivey, board chairman, addressing the crowd packed in the building's exterior fabrication area.
The college, while it still wanted to expand and improve the space it had for the arts, considered how the building also could address the area's workforce needs, he said.
"This is an example of compromise and people coming together and people putting their own interests aside and working for the common good," Spivey said. "And because of that we've been able to respond to the needs of this Northwest Arkansas community."
President Evelyn Jorgenson said the building is based on an educational philosophy emphasizing "interdisciplinary integration of form and function, beauty and usefulness."
"I believe in my heart and soul we have something magical here," she said.
Stephanie Lewis, chairwoman of visual arts and media, has worked at the college for 20 years. The new building represents a "sea change," she said. It's properly ventilated and properly lit and contains proper equipment for her program, unlike anything the college had before, she said.
"We are just now able to offer oil painting for the first time," Lewis said. "We've never been able to teach oil painting because we never had properly ventilated space."
Students and faculty from the art and construction departments aim to collaborate on projects to benefit not only the campus but the outside community as well, Lewis said.
"It's going to be using each other's brains for uplifting and creating beauty and revolutionizing the environment," she said.
The building is about 18,582 square feet with an additional outdoor fabrication space of 3,500 square feet, according to the college.
Linda Jarred of Pea Ridge is taking a figure drawing class in the building. Visitors on Friday were invited to watch as she and other students in the drawing studio drew a clothed model.
"This room is wonderful," Jarred said.
The building also includes studios for painting, print-making and ceramics. There's a construction lab connected to a classroom, as well as an adjacent all-purpose lab.
Nabholz Construction managed the construction of the building. Joy Suit, a 2018 graduate of the college's construction technology program and a Nabholz project engineer, worked on the Integrated Design Lab. She was one of the speakers at Friday's grand opening.
"Any project that you're on, you learn something new every day. So it was pretty special to be able to continue my education where I got my education," Suit said.
NW News on 09/28/2019