BOISE -- Construction has been under way since May on the striking new Boise State University fine arts building. It's a structure that will consolidate all Department of Art programs along Capitol Boulevard.

LCA Architects of Boise designed two contrasting buildings. One is blue, one is beige. They veer away from each other but join by a glass lobby LCA is describing as a “jewel case.”

The new structure will elevate the Department of Art from near anonymity with signature architecture, said Kathleen Keys, department chair. The department is now distributed among five buildings on campus.

“It links Boise State as a major anchor of the arts and cultural life of Boise,” said Keys, noting that the Boise Art Museum, The Cabin center for writers, and Morrison Center for the Performing Arts are nearby along Capitol. “It cements us as a cultural corridor.”

The five-story, 97,222-square-foot structure is scheduled for completion in fall 2019. ESI Construction of Meridian is the general contractor.

A fine arts building has been in the active planning stages since 2012. Originally, construction was expected to start in March 2014. Since then, the building has been entirely redesigned with input from a community committee, said Tony Roark, dean of the Boise State College of Arts and Sciences.

The years were also needed to assemble the $42 million to build what Boise State President Bob Kustra is calling the Boise State Center for Fine Arts. Roark said no official name has been determined and naming rights are still a possibility for a $20 million donation.

The building replaces a surface parking lot between the Morrison Center and the Micron Business & Economics Building.

A five-story curving beige, limestone-clad structure will serve as studio space and offices, while a blue stained steel shingle structure will house galleries and classrooms. Roark describes the gallery/classroom building as a ship’s prow jutting toward Capitol Boulevard.

“I think it’s about inspiration and interrogation,” Roark said. “We like that this design is provocative. It’s certainly not universally loved. It causes you to stop and wonder what it’s about. That interrogation is part of what we’re doing here.”

The Department of Art includes art education, art metals, ceramics, drawing and painting, graphic design, history of art and visual culture, illustration, interdisciplinary art, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

Each discipline will have its own suite of classrooms, shared critique space, storage and any specialty space is needed from art form to art form, Keys said.

The first floor will have galleries with artwork visible through the windows from the Capitol Boulevard sidewalk.

Existing galleries are tucked away in the Liberal Arts Building and Hemingway Western Studies Center.

“It’s easily missed,” Keys said.

To learn more, read the full story at the Idaho Business Review online.