Missouri Western State University Renovating Arts Building

By Aziza Jackson

SAINT JOSEPH, Mo. — Missouri Western State University (MWSU) is currently in the process of renovating Potter Hall, the home of its School of Fine Arts, with a proposal from a local firm that will include renovations and new additions to the existing 1970s-era facility.

The Missouri General Assembly appropriated $150,000 for architectural services for the Potter Hall project with the stipulation that MWSU match the funding. The match in funding comes from the school’s Centennial Capital Campaign and was used to hire Patterhn Ives, LLC in December 2016 to provide planning and design services and a vision for the future of Potter Hall. Other collaborators on the project include McClure Engineering (MEPFT), Alper Audi (Structural), Kirkegaard Associates (Acoustics), Schuler Shook (Stage/Lighting), and Civil Design Inc. (Civil).

“Our approach embraces both formal and informal learning through a series of courtyards that host flexible teaching environments for both their visual and performing arts programs,” said Eric R. Hoffman, AIA, partner with Patterhn Ives, LLC. “Conceived to elevate visitor and academic experience alike, the project creates a sense of arrival while drawing new connections to the larger university. We hope this new project furthers their long-standing impact and the legacy of the School of Fine Arts.”

The team at Patterhn Ives proposed two new additions to Potter Hall: one dedicated to performing arts called “the Addition,” and one to the visual arts called “the Annex.” The performing arts addition would house a 3,000 square-foot instrumental rehearsal studio and an 80-seat flexible theater. The visual arts annex would house sculpture and ceramics studios. The plans also include three courtyards: the Fine Arts Entry Courtyard, the Campus Courtyard and the Sculpture Courtyard. A glass-enclosed Entry Gallery that links the existing building to the new addition will feature additional space for displays and collections.

The facility’s visual arts annex recently earned the 2018 AIA St. Louis Unbuilt Merit Design Award.

“This minimalist proposal, if executed with equal precision, will be a great place for artists to work,” said Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA, a 2018 AIA St. Louis Design Awards jury member.

The annex is designed to accommodate flexible studios and classrooms for the visual arts program with an emphasis in three-dimensional, analog work. As an early step of the campus master plan, the proposed annex alleviates multiple issues from within the existing building by providing dedicated, adaptable studios and flexible teaching environments with appropriate ventilation systems and infrastructure.

Renovations of existing spaces within Potter Hall include:

Choral Hall and Cinema Classroom: The construction of an instrumental rehearsal hall will allow the current spaces to be re-purposed as a choral hall and a cinema screening classroom.

  1. Art Gallery and Student Lounge: The work of students, faculty and visiting artists will be displayed in a secure exhibition gallery to be located in the center of the building. The student-learning lounge will be a new space dedicated to academic development and peer interaction. Students from all fine arts departments and disciplines can access computers and learn in a relaxed, comfortable environment.
  2. Second Floor: The second floor will include renovated studios for Digital Animation, Printmaking and Painting. Additional updates will allow for a classroom and more faculty offices.