D&E announces $5M expansion of arts center

Elkins – Davis & Elkins College announced plans today for a major renovation to Myles Center for the Arts. The approximately $5 million project calls for expansion of the building and enhancement to the outdoor gathering area, both of which will better serve the campus and local community.

Funded by Trustee June Myles, the project is one in a series of upgrades to the facility in the past seven years. Davis & Elkins College President Chris A. Wood said the renovation will result in an elegant cultural center favorable for hosting a multitude of campus and community events.

“We are most grateful to June Myles for her continuing generosity and vision,” Wood said. “The facility will serve a variety of purposes and give people a place to gather in beautiful surroundings.  The newly renovated Myles Center will continue to allow us to celebrate the arts, as well as provide space for our campus community and community-at-large to gather for educational and social functions.”

The front of the structure, facing Robbins Memorial Chapel, will be extended to include a 5,200-square-foot glass enclosed addition which will nearly double the size of The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum. Seating capacity in the area will exceed 300. A two-story stone and brick rotunda, matching the one at Madden Student Center, will serve as the main entrance. The project also will include the installation of an elevator reaching all three floors, a warming kitchen for catering events and additional restrooms.

“The complex housing the Myles Center for the Arts is over 40 years old,” Myles said. “It is time for a facelift incorporating some features that echo other campus buildings. The plaza is one of the few flat places on campus so it should be made an attractive, inviting venue for students and Elkinites alike.”

The plaza in front of Myles Center for the Arts will see a complete renovation as well. Following curvilinear lines, the space will feature walking paths, grassy areas, sections for conversations and a tiered seating area that can be used as an outdoor classroom. The stone Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be relocated to include a site for honoring those who served. To accentuate the plaza, Myles commissioned a 10-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a young couple dancing. The work is tentatively titled “The Dancers.”

“June wanted to create a common area on campus that is warm and inviting, and encourages conversation,” Wood said of the outdoor space. “We want this to be a place where people will gather, not just pass through.”

Construction is slated to begin in early fall and is expected to take about a year to complete. The building will remain open and fully functional throughout the process.

The Mills Group of Morgantown is serving as architect for the project.

Dedicated in 2012, Myles Center for the Arts houses Harper-McNeeley Auditorium, the Paull Gallery, The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum, The Stirrup Gallery, art studios for the D&E Division of Creative Arts, the George A. Myles Pool, the Robbins-Madden Fitness Center and various office spaces.

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