Virginia Tech Magazine
Virginia Tech

Grand Design
Center for the Arts inspires community


Widely recognized for its strengths in such fields as engineering and architecture, Virginia Tech now aims to put itself on the map in another arena: the arts.

Ruth Waalkes, executive director of the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, said the center will not only add to those existing strengths, but also help the university remain competitive with other top-tier institutions that already have a significant fine arts presence on campus. "You can't really separate the arts and creativity from other academic disciplines such as engineering," Waalkes said. "The center will connect the arts to other areas in meaningful ways."

Construction of the center is under way at the intersection of Main Street and Alumni Mall. Slated for occupancy in late summer 2013, the center will host a fall season of preview events, followed by official dedication festivities in spring 2014.
The Center for the Arts is beginning to take shape by Alumni Mall at Main Street.
The Center for the Arts is beginning to take shape by Alumni Mall at Main Street.
Students won't be the only ones to reap the benefits. "[The center is] here as much for the community as it is for Virginia Tech," Waalkes said. "We see it blurring the lines between the university and the community." By offering new programs for area residents, fostering cultural tourism, and attracting young professionals and retirees alike to the area, the center will offer regional economic benefits.

The Vocal Arts and Music Festival, which will celebrate its third season in summer 2012, serves as a perfect example of how the center, even in its nascent stages, is blending university and community. The festival brings vocal coaches, musicians, and rising opera stars from around the world to Blacksburg for two weeks of master classes and world-class performances. The vocalists audition with International Vocal Arts Institute founders Joan Dornemann and Paul Nadler, both of the Metropolitan Opera, to vie for a spot in the festival. During the festival, the vocalists are immersed in rigorous training and rehearsals with the coaches—many of whom are legendary in the opera world—and perform almost nightly.

Late in the campaign, the Center for the Arts was added to the list of capital projects. Private funding is expected to cover 30 percent of the project—or $28 million, of which about $18 million is still to be raised—along with 29 percent in state support and 41 percent from university and other sources, according to Waalkes.

Having a strong arts presence on campus is vital for Virginia Tech's continued growth and success, Waalkes concluded. "We're continuing to think forward even as we celebrate this incredible milestone—the closing of a $1 billion campaign."


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Winter 2011-12
Go to virtual flythrough of the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech
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New institute unites art, science, and technology

The boundaries of art are not confined to the swirling brushstrokes of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" or the high notes of Puccini's "La Bohème." For researchers at the newly established Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), art extends right to the center of scientific research and discovery.

"Through art and design, we experience technological innovation and explore new realms of scientific inquiry," said Benjamin Knapp, ICAT director. Acting as a hub for research that transcends the boundaries between art and science, the institute will help support both ongoing and new transdisciplinary research on campus.

ICAT will go one step further, promoting the use of this research in the development of new materials and methods for teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines in pre-K-12 and higher education environments.