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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pollack to be removed June 2008

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: News

In response to the rapidly rising construction prices in the Boston area, Brandeis University has attempted to accomplish as much of its prioritized scheduled construction as quickly as possible, most recently announcing the future removal of Pollack Fine Arts Teaching Center in June 2008 to make way for the new Edmond J. Safra Center for the Arts.

Construction work costs may multiply to as much as 300 percent of current levels within a couple of years, explained Dan Feldman, Vice President of Capital Projects. Feldman attributes the rising costs to national and global demand for similar construction supplies and to the high cost of living in Boston. The implication of this is that costs for new building [and for renovations] areincreasing significantly faster than the consumer price index, stated Feldman.

This latest construction project, estimated to cost $18 million in its first phase, according to Feldman, comes soon after the announcement of the construction of the new Carl and Ruth J. Shapiro Admissions building, scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2009, and in the midst of ongoing Ridgewood and science complex construction.

The 3,000-square-foot Pollack Fine Arts building will be demolished and the new 22,500-square-foot Safra Centers north end will be located where Pollack once was, explained Feldman. Pollack, which was constructed in 1972, houses a large lecture hall and a seminar room, and is often the site of film screenings and Fine Arts courses.

Currently, due to lack of space in Pollack, seniors and post-baccalaureate students in advanced drawing, painting and sculpture courses attend class in the leased art building on 157-169 Prospect Street. Juniors also attend art critiques on Prospect. A goal of constructing the new Safra Center is to bring those students back onto main campus, explained Feldman. It is unknown at this time if the Prospect Street studios will continue to be leased by Brandeis.

I really do enjoy having classes at the Prospect Street Studios because we all get our own studio that we share with one other person, stated Fine Arts major Adrienne Johnson 08. Johnson also acknowledged that not having a car is a major drawback to having class on Prospect Street, It takes an hour to get there and back between calling and waiting for the Branvan. I can walk through the graveyard to get there, which is the fastest way, but I dont want to do that at night nor wait for the Branvan on Prospect because it isnt the nicest street.

If the construction of the Safra Center is not completed by the fall of 2009, Fine Arts students will not only continue to use the Prospect Street studios, but the classes which were located in Pollack will be placed in alternative locations. The registrar will accommodate [these students] elsewhere on campus. Fortunately we have a lot of nice new construction on campus in the north end of campus, said Feldman.

Pollacks removal process and initial construction of the Safra Center is scheduled to take place in the summer of 2008. Construction is always disruptive. We will do as much of the site excavation in the summer as possible…I cant say if it will be completed in the summer or fallits premature to know if theyll be blasting or how much blasting [will be needed] which could affect the completion date for site excavation, said Feldman.

Professor Graham Campbell (FA), who has taught at off-campus studios for Brandeis during ten out of his 26 years at Brandeis, explained he is not concerned about the status of the construction in the fall. Were going to improvise, thats one thing our department is really good at. There are conversations going on about how to adapt Goldman-Schwartz for all that will come up. [The Safra Center] is a great building so it will probably take a while to construct.

Feldman pointed out that while both the Rose Art Museum and Spingold Theater, which are on either side of Pollack, could be affected by the noise of the construction work, the project will not be close enough to reach residence halls, unlike the Ridgewood and Admissions construction zones.

The construction of the Safra building is part of a three-phase construction project inclusive of an eventual renovation and addition to Goldman-Schwartz. The time frame for the overall project is unknown as its largely dependent on future funding.

The phase one construction of the Edmond J. Safra Fine Arts Building is expected to begin in the summer of 2008 and result in a three-floor arts building, housing four painting and drawing studios, a gallery primarily for student work, two critique spaces, and the auditorium and seminar room spaces which Pollack offered in the past. The building will also eventually contain a digital lab and the Office of the Arts.

The construction design is focused on preserving the landscape as much as possible around Pollack, said Feldman;

it will preserve the oak trees in front of the building and not damage the surrounding wetlands.

I have always admired the central place given to the fine arts within Brandeis educational mission. It is my hope that the new arts center will enable the University to continue to attract the most talented faculty and students and to provide a home where creativity and personal expression can flourish, stated Mrs. Edmond J. Safra at the time the pledge was made for the Edmond J. Safra Center for the Arts.

The Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, run by his wife Lily Safra, is financing the Center. Safra is the grandmother of two Brandeis graduates, members of the class of 2004 and 2006, according to the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

Campbell added, I cant wait for it to be constructed and for us to move in. The fact that it unites the department and we finally get a gallery is really important for the [Fine Arts] department.