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Colby College today announced that renovations and construction for the new arts collaborative at 14-20 Main Street will begin this week. The $6.5-million project, which is part of an overarching plan to leverage the arts to help drive the resurgence of downtown Waterville, is expected to be completed by April 2021. Peter H. Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 and Life Trustee Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98 provided a $3-million gift through the Lunder Foundation to develop the arts collaborative.
Announced this past February, the arts collaborative will present vibrant arts programming for all ages and provide space for interdisciplinary artistic collaborations. It will promote the development of creative work by Maine and national artists, educators, scholars, and students and will serve as the artistic hub for all who are, or aspire to be, creators living in Central Maine. The building will also support the Lunder Institute for American Art by providing a dedicated space to foster interdisciplinary dialogues, forge connections between Waterville and the world, and expand interpretive communities in the field of American art.
“This is a critical project for Waterville’s downtown,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “It strengthens the southern gateway of the street, brings back to life two buildings that have long been neglected, and further animates the arts in Waterville’s rich cultural core. We are so grateful to Peter and Paula Lunder for seeing the possibility of these buildings as another catalyst for Waterville’s resurgence.”
Work at 14-20 Main Street, which will be done by Landry/French Construction based on a design by Ryan Senatore Architecture, will include a mix of adaptive reuse and new construction. The existing historic buildings, which date to 1836, will be fully restored, and the interior structure of 20 Main Street that was damaged by fire in 2013 will be replaced. The project includes entirely new mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems and all-new interior spaces. A modest addition will be constructed at the rear of the building to house an entrance, elevator, and stairs. The ground floor will feature all-new glazing and architectural garage doors that will open to Main Street, serving as a welcoming and inviting entrance into the arts collaborative.
“These buildings have seen a lot of history and hold a special place in the hearts of so many in Waterville and beyond as the home of Waterville Hardware,” said Vice President of Planning Brian Clark. “We’re thrilled that, as the building takes new life as the arts collaborative, we’ll be able to preserve some of that history through the restoration of the granite plaques and the revelation of some of the original painted signage on the brick.”
The nearly 25,000-square-foot building will include flexible performance and exhibition space on the first floor that will support a range of performances and exhibitions by and for Colby students and members of the community. The area, which will feature theatrical lighting and a performance audio-visual system, can be divided into two spaces that can be used for simultaneous activities or in combination for larger events.
“The goal of the arts collaborative, and especially the ground floor, is to create a dialogue around the artists who are working in the building,” said Teresa McKinney, Colby’s Diamond Family Director of the Arts. “That dialogue, at times, will be very literal through different mediums and very interactive with both the local community and Colby students and faculty. It will take the form of highlighting specific artists and their work through a series of events and themes, including workshops, open studio nights, as well as scholarly activities.”
A New Space for the Lunder Institute
The second and third floors will be artist studios with infrastructure to support the creation of original works of art, and the fourth floor will be comprised of workspaces for the Lunder Institute, which will allow it to deepen its connection with the Waterville community by bringing its programs to Main Street. Six dedicated studios, as well as research and convening spaces, will enable scholars and artists in residence to pursue innovative ideas, explore collaborations, and be in dialogue with Colby students, faculty, and the broader community artists throughout Maine.
“Now is the time to learn new ways to convene, to build together, care for each other, and keep culture thriving,” said Daisy Desrosiers, director of artist programs at the Lunder Institute. “The Lunder Institute’s location in the arts collaborative is an opportunity to do just that and more; it is a space that is synonymous with collectiveness. With this location in downtown Waterville allowing our team and our incredible collaborators to be present in the city, we aim to nurture partnerships, keep supporting the work of artists and thinkers locally and internationally, and reaffirm our commitment to critical and creative endeavors. I’m excited to be an active part of this new cultural paradigm.”