Crunch! Trees, grass give way for college's 'iconic' new structure
After seeking funding for nearly 14 years as the College of Eastern Utah, Utah State University Eastern was granted more than $20 million in 2014 by the Utah State Legislature. The funds will be used to build a new instructional building between the G.J. Reeves building and the Geary Theater.
"I think the legislature could see the plans Utah State University has for students all across Utah," said USU Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson, when asked why he thought the building had received the funding after 14 years of trying. "I think they saw the university's statewide mission and from there, the request stopped being for a building for Eastern Utah. It became a building for everybody."
According to Peterson, the Central Instructional Building will have an "iconic" look, changing the entire view of Northeast Price.
"This building will have a major impact on the community," he said. "From the way it will change the skyline, to the way it will change the overall feel and look of the campus."
For those distressed concerning the loss of open grass and trees, Peterson promised that another of the campus's older structures would be taken down in due time to create a new green space quad for USU Eastern students, faculty and the community.
The new building will house the school's Criminal Justice Program, one of the most popular courses of study at USU Eastern. New digs for the future long arm of the law are augmented by the fact that a Police Officer Standardized Training (POST) program also will be coming to Price.
The building will house much of the arts department, including the ceramics program, which was cut when USU moved some of its resources toward workforce education.
The new art section will include not only ceramics, but 2D and 3D art studios.
Music will also find a home in the new building. The state-of-the-art design and building materials will allow for angles that amplify and accentuate both instrumental and vocal musical performance and instruction.
"Nothing is straight in that portion of the building, there are some great angles," said Peterson. "And there are plans for a beautiful theater."
The new structure will feature a "Black Box Theater" which is basically a stage which allows for performances to be viewed in the round. This allows an audience to view performers from three angles instead of one.
The construction of the CIB, also begins a new partnership between USU Eastern and the Geary Theater. More than $1 million of the funds allocated for the project will be used to secure the seismic structure of the aging college theater.
Legislative funding will also help to build a standardized shop, which will be adjacent to the stage. According to Peterson, the theater company currently builds its sets on the theater's stage, something that is almost never done within the industry. With the advent of this new shop, the students will be able to build their material just off stage, allowing for better performance and better instruction for aspiring set designers.
There are plans to create an amphitheater directly in front of the new building allowing for outdoor community concerts and performances, making the college a more accessible part of the community as a whole, said Peterson.
While discussing the building, it was hard for Peterson to keep his excitement in check. After four years as the chancellor at USU Eastern, he remains as dedicated as his first days on the campus. In fact the only negative thing I could get him to utter about the new building had to do with its proposed name.
"The Central Instructional Building, man, that's a bad name," he said. "A lot of times a building will be named after a major donor but we haven't had anyone make that type of donation yet. Either way, the Central Instructional Building is by no way set in stone."
According to Peterson, a donation of $1 million or more typically will get a person's name on a college building. It's either that or become president.
"After four years I couldn't be happier with the way things are going here," said Peterson as we walk outside to see the first ground being removed from the area. "This school is oriented to the region and community and that is so great to be a part of."