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Construction Starts on $75M Innovation, Arts Center at Spelman College

Wed June 29, 2022 - Southeast Edition
Spellman College & Turner Construction Co.


The fully funded $75 million development will become home to cutting-edge collaborative programs including the Arthur M. Blank Innovation Lab, the Center for Black Entrepreneurship and the Spelman Museum of Art. (Turner Construction photo)
The fully funded $75 million development will become home to cutting-edge collaborative programs including the Arthur M. Blank Innovation Lab, the Center for Black Entrepreneurship and the Spelman Museum of Art. (Turner Construction photo)

New York-based Turner Construction Company has begun work on building Spelman College's Center for Innovation & the Arts (CI&A) in Atlanta, the contractor announced June 27.

The 84,000-sq.-ft facility is designed to house Spelman College's creative and scientific disciplines in one dynamic space, while serving as a catalyst for interdisciplinary interaction. The college also noted in a press release that the new center will bring together a vibrant community of innovators, collaborators, artists, musicians and scientists.

"It is great to work with Spelman College on the Center for Innovation & the Arts and help them create a dynamic, state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary learning environment," said Kevin Jenkins, Turner's vice president and general manager.

The fully funded $75 million development will become home to cutting-edge collaborative programs including the Arthur M. Blank Innovation Lab, the Center for Black Entrepreneurship and the Spelman Museum of Art.

Spellman to Name Center After Current Leader

Earlier in the spring, Spellman College announced that it would name the new CI&A in honor of Mary Schmidt Campbell, the 10th, and current, president of the school.

The first new academic facility at Spelman in nearly 25 years, the CI&A also will be the first built outside the college's gates and will serve as what Spellman officials are calling its "front porch," opening the campus to the Atlanta University Center's Westside community.

As Spelman's new "front porch," the CI&A will be a home to the school's thriving arts programs in dance, documentary filmmaking, photography, theater and performance, and music. In addition, it will house the Atlanta University Center Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective as well as provide expanded space for the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.

Innovation Lab the Beating Heart of CI&A

At the hub of the new center will be Spelman's innovation laboratory, the Arthur M. Blank Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, open to all liberal arts disciplines at the college. For the past six years, the technology rich lab space has been home to award winning, cross disciplinary creative projects, and an incubator of exciting new entrepreneurial ventures, according to an online description on Spelman's website.

The school's Center for Black Entrepreneurship also is slated to move into the new lab space.

"The rapid convergence of art, technology and entrepreneurship, with the liberal arts and sciences, are beginning to yield new solutions to old challenges," said Campbell. "This new facility will be a dynamic state-of-the-art learning environment that encourages disciplinary mastery in the arts and helps spur investments and foster growth in the local economy."

The concept for the CI&A began before her tenure as president when she was asked to consult Spelman on how to create integration among campus art programs. After coming out of retirement to take on the role of president in 2015, Campbell announced the formation of a steering committee, led by Ayoka Chenzira, division chair for the arts.

Studio Gang, a world-renowned Chicago architectural firm, was selected as the project's designer for its collaborative design approach and alignment with Spellman's vision.

A private, historically black, women's liberal arts college, Spelman is part of the Atlanta University Center academic consortium in the Georgia capital city. It was founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. Later, Spelman received its collegiate charter in 1924, making it America's oldest private HBCU liberal arts college for women.




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