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College of marin


Mar. 3 - Mar. 26, 2012

The fine art of problem solving Sindy Smart



tudents, teachers and lab aides have been complaining about the new Fine Arts Building since it opened a year ago. It all seems to revolve around weather, space and storage. The structure’s design flaws surfaced during recent rains. “The temperature in the classroom is always uncomfortable and it’s hard to manage it manually,’ says Tron Bykle, who teaches printmaking, painting, and drawing in a studio on the third floor of the building. “When it rains,” he says, “The wind forces water under the door in Room 313, flooding the entrance and creating a hazard. The roof also leaked, but that’s been fixed.” Designed to qualify for LEED certification, the three-story, 22,500-square-foot facility was originally designed to be energy efficient and cost effective. Its large windows provide natural light. The facility operates on natural ventilation and was supposed to improve indoor air quality. Drought-tolerant native plants surround the building and provide roof insulation. The use of these sustainable building practices received praise from students and faculty. But budget cuts compromised the original building plan. Contractors promised to complete unfinished work and address structural problems in three weeks. That was in January 2011, when the building opened. But there’s still issues that need to be resolved in the new Fine Arts Building, said David Snyder, the Dean of Arts and Humanities. “The main issue is weatherization,” says Laura McCarty, director of Modernization for COM. In other words, the building needs more protective covering from wind and rain. “There is no student common area,” says Deepa Jayanth, who has an economics degree and is taking several art classes

here. “On a rainy day there’s no place to sit or hangout. If we have some time in between classes, where are we supposed to go in this rainy weather with our artwork?” McCarty says many of these issues are being addressed. “There will be a roof over the central staircase,” she said. At ground level, canopies will protect the outdoor ceramics, jewelry, and sculpture workspace. In addition, a glass wall will be built, creating an atrium effect, says McCarty. “We’re going to keep trying until we get to the bottom of the list.” Students and faculty are concerned about health issues, as well. “The ventilation sometimes works in the dark room, sometimes not,” says Bykle. There are hazardous chemicals being used in many of these studios and classrooms. Proper ventilation, disposal, or storage creates concern over environmental and health safety. One student, who refused to give her name, complained, “The storage spaces are so small that you can only fit your lunch in them. It’s just absurd. There’s no way a painting, sculpture, or even sketchbook, can fit in them. Instead, we have to carry our stuff with us all day and bring it back and forth from our homes.” Design teams and board members are trying to address complaints as they occur. The structure will soon be going through more upgrading to solve some of the rainrelated problems. Despite these complaints, students and teachers appreciate their new classrooms and work space. “The views are awesome,” says Holden Crane, a sculpture and art major completing his third year. “We get awesome light. The new equipment is great. It’s a little bit cramped, but it’s a great improvement from the old building. We’re not in the basement anymore.” “It’s as close to heaven that I will get,” says Bykle.

Photo by Gustavo Goncalves New sculpture area only has covering over the equipment, but not the walking distance.

Photo by Gustavo Goncalves The new Fine Arts building is the first erected at the Kentfield campus from Measure C.

Photo by Gustavo Goncalves The center staircase currently acts as a wet wind tunnel to get to classes and the art office.


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