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MINNEAPOLIS-Regis Center for Art opened recently as the “final piece” of a new West Bank Arts Quarter linking theater arts, music and dance on the University of Minnesota campus.

The 155,000-sf, state-of-the art facility includes two buildings–the west one dedicated to two-dimensional art and the east building devoted to three-dimensional art. The facility includes art studios, teaching spaces, a foundry, kilns, a digital lab, wood shop, metal shop, and exterior courtyard, ample exhibition spaces for students, and an exhibition gallery (Katherine Nash Gallery). The two buildings are connected by a curving skyway that crosses 21st Avenue South.

The $41.5-million cost of the project was funded by $15 million in university-issued debt, $18.5 million from the State of Minnesota through bonding and $8 million in private donations. The new building was designed by architect and U of M architecture professor Garth Rockcastle of Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle, Ltd. and was constructed by Adolfson & Peterson Construction in the city.

The Regis Center was completed ahead of time and under budget. The new visual art complex weaves together the adjacent Rarig Center (theater), Ferguson Hall (music), Ted Mann Concert Hall and Barbara Barker Center for Dance. A streetscape, front porch entranceway and public outdoor areas at the corner of 21st Street South and 4th Street converge to form the new West Bank Arts Quarter, a 10-acre university arts complex.

The Regis Center replaces the leaky, rodent- and bird-infested former billboard factory built in 1914. In 1965, the university bought it for $1 as a temporary home for the art department. The facility was cramped, decaying and not fully wheelchair accessible, and by 1998 it had $10 million in building code violations. It is set for demolition this fall.

A few elements from the old art building are incorporated in the new building, including the street address of 2020 is above the foundry entrance. Terra cotta panels from the old art building are incorporated into an exterior wall outside the administrative offices in the new building. Four types of material are used on the exterior of the building, including cement masonry unit, brick, stucco and Swiss Pearl Panels.

Art Program Enrollment is up 23% over the past decade and art is the seventh most popular major out of the 64 majors offered by the College of Liberal Arts.

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