Tyler moves some dirt

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The meta groundbreaking for Tyler School of Art's new building on Temple Main Campus, 12th and Norris Streets. Artblog pal and Tyler faculty Frank Bramblett wondered what body was buried beneath the perfect mound of dirt. The building will be 234,000 sq. ft. of space, some classrooms, some common areas for "dialog."
The meta groundbreaking for Tyler School of Art’s new building on Temple Main Campus, 12th and Norris Streets. Artblog pal and Tyler faculty Frank Bramblett wondered what body was buried beneath the perfect mound of dirt. The building will be 234,000 sq. ft. of space, some classrooms, some common areas for “dialog.”

I know there are many folks with mixed feelings about Tyler’ School of Art’s big move from Elkins Park to Center City. I don’t want to say this move has enraged people the way the Barnes move from Merion to Center City has but it’s definitely set some people’s teeth to grinding.

Thus when I heard there was to be a groundbreaking for the new Tyler building on Temple’s Main Campus I wanted to go and check out what is officially being said about it. Also, I love spectacle no matter how high or low. And the thought of ladies and gentlemen in hard hats, suits and high heels (at least the ladies), all wielding shovels appealed.

Jennie Shanker, Richard Hricko
Richard Hricko and Jennie Shanker

So I’m not going to give comprehensive coverage of the speeches etc. But here’s a few factoids and some commentary:

1. Dean Keith Morrison said the new building, designed by architect Carlos Jimenez will provide 40 percent more teaching space. The building will have many common areas and will be equipped with cutting edge technology.

2. The building will be on 12th and Norris. The north facing side looks out on a neighborhood of row houses.

3. Frank Bramblett, painting faculty, said that the Painting, Sculpture and Drawing department will have its spaces on the north-facing side.

4. Temple President Ann Weaver Hart said this was Temple’s third ground breaking this year.

5. Every year Tyler is ranked in the top ten art schools in the country. Trustee Daniel H. Polett said US News and World Report ranked Tyler Painting as 5th in the nation, sculpture as 7th in the nation and printmaking as 12th in the nation.

6. Councilman Darrell L. Clarke said among other things that he’s very excited to be reversing the reverse commute up to Elkins Park.

7. Architect Carlos Jimenez mentioned that art schools are comprised of manyh principalities all with personalities and needs, ie, it was a challenge!

8. Helen Drutt English (Tyler 52) said she was just in Houston and walked through a building designed by Carlos Jimenez and it had beautiful light, great atrium space, floating stairwell.

Sheryl Conkelton, Frank Bramblett, Susan Moore
Sheryl Conkelton (Tyler Exhibitions Director), Frank Bramblett, Vida, Susan Moore

Moves are wrenching and moves are upheavals. This one will be big for Tyler. Much was made by the dignitaries speaking at the ceremony of the new synergy possible between the art school and the music, theatre, dance and other arts departments nearby in what is being called a new arts district. That may sound great to some. It will not appeal to others.

Tyler’s airy acres of uninterrupted grass and trees will be missed for sure in the new Tyler (anticipated move-in date 2009). But really, who’s going to miss the physical plant, which was run down and problematic even when I took classes up there in 1989-91. And while a school might take some of its personality from its building the real personality comes from the teachers. And with new hire Mark Shetabi (and six more on the way my sources tell me) plus the existing teaching staff, the old institution will stay as full of personality on main campus as it is now up in Elkins Park.

shovels and hats
The lineup of shovels and hardhats before the “big dig” by the dignitaries.

As an adult I took classes at Tyler for two years (1989-91) following a two-year stint as a student at PAFA (1986-88). So I’ve experienced the downtown art school scene and the sprawling campus scene in the suburbs. There’s a difference. Whether the difference is important in the long run???? I am not so sure. Discuss amongst yourselves. More photos from the groundbreaking here.

Tags

frank bramblett, tyler

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