New NMSU art building breaks ground

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New NMSU art building breaks ground

Ground was broken on Tuesday, March 27, on the construction of the new art building that will replace the eighty-year-old D.W. Williams Hall in the fall of 2019.

The construction will take approximately 16 months and will be located in the lot directly adjacent to the old art building, taking the space that once held a faculty parking lot.

The bond for the project was passed in November of 2016 to partially fund the cost of the new building. Private donors helped to raise approximately $3.1 million for the construction.

The structure itself will cost $18.9 million to build; lower than the $22.5 million that was originally slated for the facility in the 2016b bond. With the bids coming in lower than expected, it leaves room for the new art building to receive upgrades.

The Board of Regents voted earlier this month to name the new building after Ammu and Rama Devasthali, who have advocated and donated to the project for over fourteen years.

Ammu Devasthali said that with the building of the new facilities, NMSU will become a top competitor and choice for incoming students wishing to go into the arts.

“When you talk about enrollment, they look at the surrounding universities as well. So, we have competition from other schools who have better facilities than us. But this building will be so state of the art that when the choice comes, they will choose NMSU. I am positive about that,” Ammu said.

The old building holds not only the art department but the campus gallery as well. At the ceremony, it was announced that Devastahli Hall will upgrade the gallery to allow for more space and will also be an art museum.

Devasthali said, “this [museum] will allow people with personal art collections to be able to donate to the museum and grow this facility and grow the art collections.”

What the new building is hoping to accomplish is to involve the community in NMSU’s art scene as well as provide more space and additional features such as lab offices and course-specific studios for students and faculty.

The Dean of the Arts and Sciences department, Enrico Pontelli, said, “this will allow us to expand our program and offer more programs through the art department.”

Pontelli also said that the old building could no longer accommodate students currently in the art program because the space was too small and unsafe due to its age.

D.W. Williams Hall was originally built in 1938 as the basketball auditorium and was converted in 1972 to house the Department of art; the bleachers from the auditorium still remain. The architecture and small-size limits the learning and teaching capabilities for many students and teachers.

“When I was a student here in 1957, it was an old building even then. It really is time that sucker came down. The students don’t deserve those old bleachers,” NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said.

According to Heather Watenpaugh, University Architect and Campus Planning Officer, the Department of Art and the University Art Gallery will still be in use while the construction of Devasthali Hall takes place. However, the old art building will eventually be demolished to allow space for other structures in the future.

“The old building will still be a space for art students to keep on having their classes for the 16 months it will take to open Devasthali Hall because it’s difficult to find a temporary space that suits the needs of the students,” said Watenpaugh.

Watenpaugh said the construction would not affect the building so much as the surrounding areas which could change the way people get to class or park their car.

Devasthali Hall is aiming for occupancy in the 2019 fall semester, meanwhile, students will still have to use D.W. Williams Hall until they can finally retire the building.

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