Calling it a project that will transform the creative arts both for University of Tampa students and the Tampa community, the University began construction on a new, four-story, 90,000-square-foot building on campus that will provide spaces for UT’s fine and performing arts.
The Ferman Center for the Arts building, named in honor of the Ferman family – longtime supporters of the University – will include a recital hall, black box theater, classrooms, practice rooms, art and dance studios, faculty and administrative offices, student study spaces and much more.
The central focus of the building includes a multi-use lobby space that provides gallery walls for displaying art work, which leads into another area for music and dance performances. Above this elevated performance area is a combination study and gallery. The two are connected by an artistic, circular stair which features a performance stage mid-landing that is suitable for musical performances, readings or addresses to a crowd.
Other building features include:
- A 200-seat, acoustically-tuned theatre, ideal for recitals and other musical performances, dance programs, film screenings and speeches;
- Two sound insulated music classrooms, and six general education classrooms;
- Twelve music practice rooms, music teaching studios and instrument storage;
- Three recording studios with a professional level control room;
- A black box theater designed for flexible stage and audience interaction, including rehearsal spaces;
- A large painting studio and 20 small advanced painting collaborative project studios;
- A courtyard with casting/sand pit area and furnaces for casting metal or ceramic art;
- Sculpture studio and wood/metal fabrication shop, including a plasma cutter;
- The Center for Speech;
- Student study and meeting spaces throughout; and,
- Many faculty offices as well as faculty lounges and part-time faculty office and study spaces.
For comparison’s sake, the four-story Ferman Center for the Arts is slightly larger than the six-story Graduate and Health Studies building, which opened in Fall 2018 and is currently the University’s largest academic building. The architecture will feature glass, wood, red-brick and steel to complement other campus buildings, including the iconic Plant Hall. The interior will be a contemporary, functional, dynamic space that exudes creativity and innovation.
The location of the building is at the southwest corner of North Boulevard and Spaulding Drive. It is currently the site of the Edison Building, which will be demolished beginning Tuesday, May 7, to make room for construction. Construction will begin thereafter, and the building is set to be complete by Fall 2020.
Many of the spaces that will be featured in the Ferman Center for the Arts are currently housed in the campus’ former Florida State Fair exhibit buildings, which are almost 100 years old and are gradually failing.
The lead building donors, Jim and Celia Ferman and the Ferman family, are inextricably linked to Tampa and The University of Tampa. The family has been involved with UT for 70 years – more than three-fourths of UT’s existence. The family is already the namesake of a conference room in the Vaughn Center and of the current campus music building, which the new building will replace. Martha Ferman, who passed in 2011, helped found The Chiselers. Her late husband, James L. Ferman Sr., served as chair of UT’s Board of Trustees, as did their son, Jim L. Ferman Jr., who with his wife, Celia, have also long been involved with the University.
The lead architect on the project is Eric Kreher of Kreher Wehling Jacquette Architects Inc., and EWI Construction has been named to build the new structure. This team also designed and constructed the Fitness and Recreation Center on campus, which opened in 2016.
In alignment with UT’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the new building will be designed and constructed to be a candidate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. If successful, it will be UT’s eighth LEED-certified building. The new building exterior will also be enhanced by appropriate landscaping.