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UMBC breaks ground on new building for the performing arts

The University of Maryland Baltimore County has broken ground on a $170 million  performing arts and humanities building that will be the Catonsville school's largest building to date.

"We have vibrant arts and humanities [programs] here that don't have as high a visibility as science and engineering," UMBC spokesman Thomas Moore says.

"We're hoping this will provide an opportunity for people to get to know us better."

Known for its computer science and engineering programs, UMBC officials hope that the building will boost its reputation in these fields and get more locals involved with the school by showcasing performances and lectures.

The 167,000 square foot building will open in two phases. The first phase, the department of theater and English, will open in 2012.  It will also include the Dresher Center for the Humanities, which will host public lectures and events. The second phase, which houses the department of dance, music, philosophy and ancient studies, will open in 2016.

"We're confident that every student who begins here will end up taking classes in this building," Moore says. "It's a building that will touch of the lives of every student."

The bulk of the building's funding will come from the state's capital budget.

UMBC officials hope the Catonsville location will make it convenient for people from other areas to catch a performance or talk at the new building. The campus is close to Interstates 95 and 695 and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Boston's William Rawn Associates Inc. and Grimm + Parker Architects of Calverton designed the building. William Rawn's other projects include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Music Center at Strathmore and Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood.

Moore says the stainless steel and brick structure at 1000 Hilltop Circle will have a reflective quality that will display different hues at different times of the day.

"We hope it will be a very beautiful-looking building when it's done."

Source: Thomas Moore, UMBC
Writer: Julekha Dash
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