MOUNT VERNON — The transformation of the Stage department store building into the Buchwald Center, a new visual arts and education center for Mount Vernon Nazarene University, is nearing fruition, and is on schedule for grand opening ceremonies to be held Sept. 4 in conjunction with First Friday activities.
Denny Taylor, MVNU’s director of facilities management and campus safety, escorted the News through the work in progress. He discussed the proposed use of the space, showing where which program, such as painting and ceramics, will be located, and pointed out some of the architectural features of the structure.
The design architects have taken special pains to incorporate the old with the new. First, Taylor said, all of the material removed from the building, including flooring and windows, were taken to a recycling center and sorted. Some of the material will be recycled elsewhere, and some salvaged materials will find new life in the Buchwald Center.
Some of the wood has been used for interior framing; the original elevators, including a freight elevator, have been refurbished; the tin ceiling on the first floor will remain intact; and at least two fireplaces will stay on site, as will an inside door or two from the original building. The old window glass has been placed in storage to be used at a later date, and the old wooden floors on the second story are being sanded and re-varnished. The four-story skylight is getting new glass, and spindles from the old wooden staircases will be incorporated into the skylight design. Although all of the old plumbing and electric fixtures have given way to more efficient modern systems, Taylor said several of the old radiators will be on display throughout the facility.
Kristin VanValkenburg, an art and graphic design student who graduated from MVNU in 2008, said she is envious of the students who will benefit from the 32,000 square feet of studio, classroom and office space.
“I think it’s gorgeous so far,” she said, “even in it’s unfinished state, and I’m jealous. It would be wonderful to take classes in painting in such a large facility with so many windows and natural lighting. In the old building, painting and drawing were in the same classroom, and a lot of the programs had to share space. This will help scheduling because now we can have a ceramics class going on the same semester as sculpture.
“With the woodworking area, there are a lot more possibilities for developing a sculpture area. A lot of the visual arts classrooms [on the main campus] were shared, and now each area in the art department has its own space. That is very nice.”
The renovated structure will also have increased gallery space for students to showcase their work; what will become the Schnormeier Gallery will be open to the public.