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Spelman College Selects Studio Gang to Design New Center for the Arts & Innovation Share a Spelman College Press Release

Spelman College

For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:
Audrey Arthur
(404) 270-5892 (office)
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Elizabeth Krasner
(872) 315-2289
Twitter / Instagram:@StudioGang

Spelman College GateATLANTA (May 24, 2017) – Spelman College is pleased to announce the selection of Studio Gang to design the College's new Center for the Arts & Innovation. Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an award-winning architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Responsible for such lauded designs as the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College, the recently completed Campus North Residential Commons at the University of Chicago, and the forthcoming Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Studio Gang uses design as a medium to connect people socially, experientially and intellectually.

“With the current pace of rapid change, in which the convergence of art, technology, entrepreneurship and science more and more frequently yields solutions to contemporary challenges, we are pleased to be working with the adventurous and innovative architectural team at Studio Gang,” said Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.

“The new facility will provide a home for the ARTS@Spelman and will also house the school's interdisciplinary Innovation Lab. Studio Gang brings to the project a uniquely collaborative approach to design that aligns with our vision to provide a new and dynamic state-of-the-art learning environment that encourages not only disciplinary mastery in the arts, but provides a creative intersection among art, technology, science and other liberal arts.”

This mode of collaboration, popularly known as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) is the underlying principle for the design of the new facility. The building will encourage experimentation, collaboration, active play, research and the imaginative use of digital technologies.

“We look forward to building on the rich history of Spelman College to design a facility that will expand opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and learning,” said Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang. “Working in close collaboration with the community, we hope to design a welcoming new front porch for the campus, oriented to the neighborhood.”


For the past 136 years, Spelman, one of the country's leading liberal arts colleges and top women's colleges, has been a beacon of intellectual excellence for Black women. In recent years, the College, according to the National Science Foundation, has led the nation in the education of Black women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As Spelman drafts a new strategic vision for the next five years, the intent is to couple the College’s documented strength in STEM with a newly conceptualized set of possibilities in the arts.

Drawing on the expertise of Spelman's stellar faculty in the arts, this new direction is captured in the programmatic initiative ARTS@Spelman, a set of strategic opportunities for the departments of Art & Visual Culture, Dance Performance & Choreography, Theater & Performance, Music, the Digital Moving Image Salon and the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. ARTS@Spelman's collaborative approach recognizes the opportunity of STEAM to enhance the academic excellence of Spelman and continue the College's ascent into the top ranks of liberal arts colleges.

To be a leader in dynamic campus engagement, relevance, collaboration and innovation, Spelman is heightening its emphasis on the arts and technology—envisioning an arts curriculum that is informed by innovative digital media, multiple arts languages, world artistic practices, multicultural influences, courses that build entrepreneurial skills, and technology integration into the arts. These changes to the arts curriculum will result in a broader range of employment opportunities for Spelman graduates, including careers outside of the arts.

The New Facility

Many of today’s careers require an interdisciplinary approach. As a space for the convening of multiple disciplines, the new facility will bring together visual arts, art history, curatorial studies, photography, documentary filmmaking, dance, theater, music, an innovation lab and parts of the Museum. Along with the consolidation of arts disciplines on campus, there will also be student collaboration areas, living spaces for visiting artists-in-residence professionals and a cyber café.

The Center provides an opportunity to formalize alliances and collaborations that already exist by creating a multi-disciplinary gathering space that allows faculty-to-faculty and faculty-to-student extracurricular conversations.

Another goal is to enhance the connections between the College and the Westside Atlanta community. The new facility will have an entrance that faces out to the Westside community that serves as a “front porch” to Spelman through programming and invitations to public activities and amenities.

The College expects to approve a conceptual design for the Center in the fall.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent.  Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, former Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard University Professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit Spelman College.

About Studio Gang
Studio Gang is an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Led by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang and recognized internationally for a design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities, and environments, Studio Gang produces award-winning work that ranges in scale from the 82-story Aqua Tower to the 14-acre Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Recent projects include the new United States Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; a unified campus for the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California; and an expansion to the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Intertwined with its built work, Studio Gang develops research and related projects such as publications, exhibitions, and events that push design’s ability to create public awareness and lead to change—a practice Jeanne calls “actionable idealism.” These include Civic Commons, a multi-city project reimagining public buildings across the United States, and Reverse Effect, an advocacy publication produced to spark a greener future for the Chicago River. This will be Studio Gang’s first project in Atlanta.


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