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First Impressions

The first phase of UMBC’s new Performing Arts and Humanities Building is already teeming with students and faculty eager to study, teach, work and create in the brand-new space.

Yet the campus celebration of the new building – scheduled for Wednesday, September 19 – will be an occasion for the university and the general public to experience the Performing Arts and Humanities Building in an event-packed day of discussion, debate and entertainment.

The day kicks off at 2 p.m. when Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley joins UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, to officially cut the ribbon on building’s first phase and to break ground for the building’s second phase, set to open in 2014.

The ceremonies will be followed at 3 p.m. by an Arts and Humanities Festival held outside at the new building. The festival will feature music and readings by UMBC student groups and community artists, highlighted by a performance by UMBC alumnus Lafayette Gilchrist ’92, Africana studies. The festival will last until 6:30 p.m., with delicious and diverse cuisine provided by some of the area’s best food trucks.

And as the festival continues outside, the Performing Arts and Humanities Building’s 275-seat proscenium theatre will be the site of “New Space” – a dynamic panel discussion co-hosted by UMBC and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. (3:30 p.m.)

Moderated by WYPR’s Tom Hall, “New Space” will allow prominent UMBC scholars and local artists to reveal the physical, conceptual and virtual spaces that motivate their work and explore how new spaces inspire them to think, create and engage in expected and unexpected ways.

Tours of the new building will be given between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by an Inaugural Lecture presented by The Humanities Forum in the proscenium theatre.  Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies, will speak on the topic: “The Humanities, Without Apology.”

The first phase of Performing Arts and Humanities Building is the new home of UMBC’s theatre and English departments, along with the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Linehan Artist Scholars Program and the Humanities Scholars Program.

The building was designed not only to be aesthetically pleasing, but to advance key elements in teaching, research and creative endeavor at UMBC. The Performing Arts and Humanities Building is also projected to incorporate enough sustainable design strategies to be designated as a LEED Silver project – including a white roof to reduce the structure’s “heat island” effect and a system that harvests rainwater for irrigation.

While the fences and cranes have moved from the front of the building, the work site at the north edge of campus won’t be closing down anytime soon. Construction has already begun on phase two of the building, which will open in fall 2014 and provide a new home for the departments of dance, music, philosophy and ancient studies, as well as a 350 seat concert hall and a 120 seat dance studio.

Go here to learn more about the Performing Arts and Humanities Building or to view the full details for the Grand Opening Celebration.

(9/12/12)