Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center
Christopher Newport University,
Newport News, Virginia
The Torggler Fine Arts Center is the newest addition to Christopher Newport University’s campus serving the University’s Fine Arts Department and creating space for a new Peninsula Fine Arts Center for Newport News, Virginia. The 88,060 square-foot center is a dramatic new space that will bring nationally renowned collections to the University and the community. It houses gallery and programming space, an art history lecture hall, a large hands-on gallery, and studios.
Designed to connect to the existing Ferguson Center for the Performing Arts, the Fine Arts Center provides space for visiting exhibitions and a future University collection, and is anticipated to provide for the display of renowned collections from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and other traveling exhibitions. Highlights include 8,000 SF of new gallery space, a children’s discovery gallery, and a theater combined with a variety of support spaces including secure loading and art handling areas to meet American Alliance of Museums (AAM) accreditation standards. The building also houses new academic facilities for the University’s growing arts programs, which will support both academic learning and public education spaces. New studios and classrooms for sculpture, ceramics, drawing, painting, digital arts, and photography studios expand the arts program into new state of the art facilities. This new facility also frees up space in the existing Ferguson Center, where the project renovated nearly 17,000 SF of existing space to expand CNU’s music program facilities, with a new band room, rehearsal rooms and a recording studio.
The design of the new Fine Arts Center draws from the character of the existing Ferguson Center, originally designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei and offers a transition to the more neo-classical character of the main campus. A dramatic set of three, tiered glass domes serves as the hinge point and main public entry to this dramatic new space. The arcade from the Ferguson Center is extended to provide a consistent public face to the main public façade, while the academic spaces are located in a more neo-classical inspired rear ell. A small café in the dome area, along with two classrooms for children’s education and a Discovery gallery with glass painting box provide space for families to experience the arts. Offices, faculty studios and museum administration spaces are also provided for the building operations.