Campus prepares for new performing arts space

As giant bulldozer arms crushed and demolished bricks and metal on Jan. 13, the campus said goodbye to the Huckins Apartment complex that has been housing students since the mid-nineties.

“Huckins is supposed to be a one week job in which we will take all rubble to the landfill for UMHB.” Said Jeff Cummings, RT Schneider Construction employee during demolitions.

The purpose of the tear down is to make way for the new performing arts center that is set to be finished in the fall of 2017. Although plans for this new center have been a long-time coming, associate dean of Student Development, Donna Plank, said that the demolition couldn’t take place until there was room for displaced students in other campus housing.

“We had a meeting with the students in Huckins in October concerning the demolition,” Plank said. “They were told the university would grant them first-choice housing.”

The removal of the apartments left 54 students displaced. In order for the project to be completed on time, the university didn’t have the luxury of waiting until the summer when apartments would be unoccupied.

“The new performing arts studio is due to be built by the fall of 2017, therefore adequate steps were needed to be taken now to see that accomplished,” said Associate Vice President for Campus Planning Robert Patee.

Not only did the 54 displaced students get first dibs on where they wanted to live, but they also got a price break on their new location.

“The university granted the students the option to live in the most expensive units for the price of living in Huckins during their spring term,” Plank said.

The Performing Arts Center is the final installment of the university’s Campus Master Plan, which was approved in 2011. The project was delayed as the university had to wait until adequate alternative housing was available.

“It was occupied, and we had to wait until College View apartment beds opened,” Patee said.

Now that Huckins has been removed, the university will turn its focus to the future. A ceremony will be held Feb. 5 to break ground on the new Performing Arts Center.

The facility will be 40,725 square feet and will include both performing and learning spaces, and will feature a 546-seat theater.

Author: Jonathan Allison

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