An artist's rendering of the new entry rotunda for the Joyce Eichhorn Ames School of Art Building

Gift to Give New Look to
Ames School of Art

May 26, 2011

The Joyce Eichhorn Ames School of Art Building will have a new look this fall, complete with studio and office renovations and an entry designed to showcase the school.  The new construction is made possible by a gift from B. Charles "Chuck" Ames '50 and Joyce "Jay" Eichhorn Ames '49.

Construction began in May on a more than 2,400-square-foot glass rotunda and lobby for the entrance of the art building, designed by CSO Architects and consultant R. Paul Bradley. The building, which is part of the Alice Millar Center for the Arts, houses classrooms and studios for painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics, graphics and other art activities. The building also accommodates the Merwin and Wakeley art galleries.

"There is so much creativity and beauty in the work of those in the School of Art, and we wanted the exterior of the building to reflect that," said Jay, who was an art major at Illinois Wesleyan, where she developed a lifelong passion for visual arts with professors such as Art Department Chairman Kenneth Loomis. "We want visitors to know, with one look, that this is the art building."

The School of Art was named in honor of Jay in 1998, when her husband decided to surprise her on Valentine's Day with an endowment gift to the University. The Ameses, longtime supporters of the University, are honorary chairs of the Transforming Lives campaign. The couple is responsible for major gifts that include a challenge to raise money for the construction of The Ames Library, which opened in 2002. They also made history in 2009 with a $25 million gift for the Wesleyan Fund and faculty endowments, the largest in the history of the University.

Renovations to the School of Art through the Ames' gift will also include much of the first floor outside the Merwin and Wakeley art galleries. "This will provide more room and an inviting atmosphere for the many gatherings, openings and receptions for artists held near the galleries," said Roger Schnaitter, the former associate provost and current University liaison for construction projects in academic buildings.

To accommodate the new lobby, faculty offices will relocate to the second floor of the building. According to Schnaitter, the construction also provided the University the opportunity to improve the existing space. "The four current instructional studios will be revamped into three larger, more spacious studios for students," he said. 

The University expects the instructional studios and faculty offices to be ready before the 2011 fall semester begins and the rest of the project completed soon thereafter.

Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3960