The University of Arkansas at Little Rock invites students and the community to experience the Windgate Center of Art + Design with an interactive evening featuring bronze pouring, woodworking, painting and more at the inaugural CRE8.
By Barrett Gay | Photography by Dero Sanford | Shot on location at the Windgate Center of Art + Design
“A building comes alive when there are people in it. And a creative building really comes alive when there are people in it,” notes UA Little Rock Director of Development and External Relations for the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences Joe Lampo. His excitement is palpable as the new University of Arkansas at Little Rock Windgate Center of Art + Design welcomes students for the spring semester and they bring life to the impressive structure.
The facility is the culmination of more than a decade of ideas, research, feasibility studies and meticulous architectural planning between the university and the Windgate Charitable Foundation. UA Little Rock has a well-established relationship with the foundation, whose principal goal is to provide funding to educational programs and institutions that advance the arts. Research revealed that the university required a new, specially designed facility to meet the needs of the visual arts program. In the spring of 2015, Windgate awarded a $20.3 million grant toward the project — the second-largest gift in the university’s history.
Joe explains that the design elements reflect the purpose of the building. It’s a creative and intellectual space that brings applied design, art history and studio arts students and faculty under one roof for the first time. “One of the great features about this building is that the architect spent a lot of time with the faculty to figure out exactly what they needed in each one of their media.” The newly completed three-story building includes custom studios and workshops for metal and digital fabrication, woodworking, ceramics, sculpting, photography and much more. The 64,000-square-foot center also boasts two art galleries, an 80-seat lecture hall and the Capital City’s only fine arts foundry.
Architect John Greer, with WER Architect Planners, demonstrated such attention to detail that he even oriented specific studios and windows with special consideration to the sun, allowing for optimal natural lighting for certain media. “Now that’s the type of genius that went into this,” says UA Little Rock Foundation Fund Board of Directors Chairman Mark Pollack, who is also a UA Little Rock graduate.
As part of its partnership with the Windgate Charitable Foundation for this project, the university committed to providing $3 million in art student scholarships. With plans to exceed that amount, it has already generated $1 million. The Foundation Fund Board, comprised of alumni and friends of UA Little Rock who promote goodwill and support for the campus in the city, state and region, eagerly embraced this project. “So we’ve got the facility, now we need the word to get out,” Mark explains. “And we need students to come, because we’re going to take care of them. It’s in our best interest that they succeed.” To generate community awareness and support, the Foundation Fund Board will co-host the inaugural CRE8 celebration with the Department of Art + Design.
At this casual fundraiser, guests will experience live bronze pouring, woodworking, painting and more by cre8ive students and faculty. Refreshment stations will be strategically placed throughout the building to encourage exploration of the various workspaces and live demonstrations. Patricia Pollack, Mark’s wife and fellow UA Little Rock graduate, says she looks forward to “letting the people see what we have and what we can do.”
Through events such as CRE8, devoted alumni like Patricia and Mark support a shared vision for the future of the university to further its mission of providing students with the most relevant education. “Our ability to raise these funds wouldn’t be possible without Patricia and Mark Pollack, who have worked tirelessly to plan our opening fundraising event to help us reach our scholarship goal,” says UA Little Rock Chancellor Dr. Andrew Rogerson. “As graduates of UA Little Rock, they keep finding ways to give back to the university so that others can have a quality and affordable education. They’ve put their heart into CRE8 so that it will be successful. I can’t thank them enough.”