Art Building renovation continues

Flagler College’s Molly Wiley Art Building is nearing completion of a $5.7 million facelift that will introduce cutting-edge studios and creative possibilities, while it preserves the 120-year-old structure’s historic details.

The first phase of the project — the conversion of a boiler room annex into a two-story studio, gallery and office complex — will wrap up in May. The original building will be rehabilitated in the next and final phase, which should be complete by the start of fall classes.

The rehabilitation will showcase the original interior details of this Henry Flagler-era structure, which was once used as studios for such renowned artists as Martin Johnson Heade.

The original design of the building will remain intact, particularly the exterior cast-in-place concrete, Roman bond brickwork and palm tree trunk column supports. The updated facilities will also feature a spiral staircase, a restored skylight, open woodwork ceilings and a new entrance and sculpture courtyard.

Chris Smith, chair of Flagler’s art and design department, said he’s looking forward to changes brought about by the renovations, including a dedicated sculpture facility, a digital photography studio and new courses. Emerging topics include: motion graphics and photo art direction, a class that puts graphic design students “in the art director’s seat, working on professional photo shoots just like it’s done on the job.”

Several sources have funded the project, including gifts from donors such as the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and a $350,000 historic preservation grant from the State of Florida. The renovated art building will be dedicated to Molly Wiley, one of the college’s most significant benefactors and sister of school founder Lawrence Lewis, Jr., at an April 11 ceremony.

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