A ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony took place for the University of Montevallo’s New 3D Art Building Saturday, February 14, during the annual 2015 Homecoming festivities.
Located where the building known as “The Laundry” had stood since its construction in the early 1900s, the new building gives a respectful nod to the past, including a triangular gable, a red brick façade and a carved limestone windowsill bearing the year 1908, which was salvaged from the original building. That structure was determined to be unsound in 2013 during renovation plans for an adjacent building, and the cost of repairs made new construction a better fiscal option.
Designed by Birmingham’s TurnerBatson architects and built by Clements Dean Construction, the approximately 10,000-square-foot structure houses a ceramics studio, a metalwork/sculpture studio and 3-D classroom space. The facility opened for classes at the start of the spring semester in January.
Donors and UM alumni H. Conrad and Barbara Martin Blackerby (classes of 1966 and 1965, respectively) noted, “The new 3D Art Building brings forth an outstanding venue where students and teachers alike will share in the creative process, producing great works of art to inspire others. We are honored to participate in this endeavor by naming The H. Conrad and Barbara Blackerby Ceramics Studio.”
“The University of Montevallo has long been deeply committed to the arts, not only because they are a vital part of a liberal arts education, but also because the University has long recognized that the quality of our lives and the quality of the arts are deeply and closely interconnected,” stated Steven J. Peters, dean of the College of Fine Arts at UM. “The New 3D Art Building is emblematic of that interconnectedness, as well as of the enduring impact of philanthropy. For these three reasons, I am convinced that the choices we make in the arts are as central as any choices that we will make as a University in the decades ahead.”
Chris and DeAnna Smith funded The Donald G. McCarley Metal Shop, named in memory of DeAnna’s father.
“My father, Donald G. McCarley, was a hard-working welder,” said Smith. “He moved throughout the ranks, even without a college degree, and eventually opened his own industrial design and manufacturing business. In addition, he had amazing artistic talent. We are so fortunate to have many metalworking pieces as family heirlooms, from the unity candle at my wedding to a gliding baby bassinet for my sister’s firstborn, which has welcomed home all of the grandchildren in the family. He and my mother worked hard so that my sister, Kristy, and I, could have a better life. For me, that meant Montevallo — which absolutely changed my life. There is no more fitting remembrance of my father than to encourage students with artistic talents in metalworking.”
Chris Smith is a current MBA student at UM. DeAnna Smith is a 1999 graduate of Montevallo and currently serves as the vice president for business affairs and treasurer for the University.
Members of the art department faculty were afforded unprecedented input, within budgetary constraints, for the functional design details of the building. Among those details are a loading dock and roll-up doors for materials delivery, with a smooth surface from indoors to out to allow wheeled carts of delicate, unfired ceramics to be moved from studio to kiln without damage. Floor drains that run the length of the ceramics studio will aid greatly in keeping the facility clean, and two important safety features include eye-washing stations and a state-of-the-art ventilation system.
An additional feature, required in new public construction, is a tornado shelter. The shelter is used as classroom space but can serve double-duty when needed, holding up to 192 people and designed to withstand winds of up to 250 miles per hour.
Outdoor workspaces are located on either side of the structure. Both covered by large awnings, one will provide an area for kilns for firing ceramics, and the other shelters a kiln and sand pit constructed for poured metalwork. Combining a learning opportunity with the needs of the facility, one class of students is learning kiln building this semester, and their work will live on as part of the department’s history, available for use by countless students who follow in their footsteps along the red brick streets of the Montevallo campus.