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$18 Million Renovation of Studio Center Acts as a Redevelopment Catalyst for Station North

Renovation provides newly expanded galleries, academic spaces and a café

Posted 09.13.12 by MICA COMMUNICATIONS

Graduate Studio Center's new Peter & Georgia Angelos Plaza

BALTIMORE - MICA announces the final phases of the MICA Graduate Studio Center at 131 W. North Ave. Continuing its tradition of adaptive use of historic spaces by renovating the century-old former JoS. A. Bank factory that has served as a home for the College's graduate students for 12 years, the renovation will make the building--with newly expanded galleries, a café and academic activity--an integral and cultural part of the city's Station North Arts & Entertainment District. When completed in fall 2012, it will become a cultural destination that draws new audiences and visitors; make Station North a magnet for world-class talent; and encourage more creative professionals to live and work in Station North. The project is part of an ongoing collaboration with the Central Baltimore Partnership to revitalize the area.

The free public Graduate Studio Center Open House, on Sunday, Oct. 21 from 2-4 p.m., will coincide with the reception for Invited: Celebration Station, an exhibition featuring two gallery floors of celebratory-themed artworks. Guests will also be able to visit two floors of independent fine arts undergraduate studios and four floors of graduate studios and exhibitions from the College's Mount Royal School of Art, LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting, Photographic & Electronic Media, M.F.A. in Curatorial Practice and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Arts.

"MICA is leading a transformation in graduate education, and the renovation of the Graduate Studio Center is a physical representation of a change in the way colleges must approach education," President Fred Lazarus IV said. "Especially at the graduate level, art and design students are increasingly focused on engagement with the broader public, collaboration and making connections among ideas to engineer multimedia solutions to complex social problems. This new space will allow students to work together even as they explore their own vision and give the public access to the fantastic creative environment that we have developed at MICA."

The project will add 25,000 square feet of academic space and improve the quality of an additional existing 95,000 square feet, including 2,785 square feet of gallery and exhibition space. In addition, the renovation will decrease the building's environmental footprint and house an auditorium/lecture hall offering students and the broader public a place to learn from faculty members and visiting artists; a café on the first floor connecting the College with the neighborhood; an indoor atrium and outdoor plaza providing spaces where visitors to the building can gather, meet students, network and relax; 177 studios (61 graduate studios and studio space for 260 undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students); state-of-the-art digital, computer and photo labs that any student can use to create works entirely in the digital genre or use to enhance artwork formed by other means; spray booths with specifically designed ventilation systems to provide unencumbered space for artists to paint in a healthy manner; a fabrication workshop for use in artmaking; and programming space for low-residency summer programs.

WATCH: MICA Honors Gov. Martin O'Malley at Graduate Studio Center Event

"MICA has played a critical role in revitalizing its neighboring communities and in stimulating the development of Baltimore's arts and cultural life. Each of its facilities has creatively strengthened Baltimore and the College," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. "The Graduate Studio Center project will not only mean cultural and economic revitalization for Station North; it will also be a huge boost to Baltimore's ability to position itself as a national center for creative innovation."

Graduate programs at MICA are the vanguard of creativity and innovation. MICA's top-ranked M.F.A. graduate programs are already national models, and the College's focus on research is revolutionizing the way that creative individuals approach artmaking. By the end of this decade, MICA will have increased graduate student enrollment by 64 percent, and the number of programs by 82 percent when compared to 2010.

The engagement of MICA's administrators, faculty, students and alumni in Station North has already triggered redevelopment and economic regeneration in the area. The new space will expedite that renewal by attracting diverse audiences to exhibitions, discussions and entertainment events, providing additional culinary service and triggering cascading improvements to the aesthetic image of one of Baltimore's most important educational and cultural destinations.

In 2002, MICA and other concerned organizations led the creation of one of the nation's first state-endorsed Arts & Entertainment Districts-Station North, along the previously neglected North Avenue in Baltimore. The area shortly became one of the newest pillars of the arts and culture industry in the state, providing easily accessible areas for artists and audiences to meet and engage in cultural exchange. Station North was recently profiled in The New York Times as an area experiencing rapid transformation and was awarded a citation from the State of Maryland. With its state-sanctioned focus on art and original design, Station North is the perfect location for MICA's graduate headquarters.

The renovation is being completed by Cho Benn Holback + Associates Inc. (with alumnus George Holback '74) as the architect, James Posey Associates as engineer, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company as contractor and Lazarus Design Associates as landscape designer.

For more than a century, MICA has been at the forefront of graduate education in art and design, beginning with the 1896 establishment of the Rinehart School of Sculpture, the first graduate-level art program of its kind in America. That pioneering spirit has been central to the development of graduate programs at the College-programs that courageously address emerging issues in the world of art and design overlooked by other colleges. MICA's approach is grounded in a rigorous studio experience and a disciplined study of theory, but it also empowers students to take risks, to ask and answer difficult questions, and to be aware of the larger consequences of their work to society and individuals. The range of graduate programs at the College spans the spectrum of art and design, and includes concentrations in fine arts, design, business, liberal arts, photographic and electronic media, professional studies and art education. Today, MICA's graduate programs are strengthened by the diversity of the student body, made up of students from all over the world.



Image caption: Graduate Studio Center's new Peter & Georgia Angelos Plaza.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.