BYU West Campus officially opens to fine arts students

This Fall semester has brought a big change to many of the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center (HFAC) students due to many classes being switched to BYU West Campus. 

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The BYU West Campus Central Building opened its doors to fine arts students last week as construction preparation began for the replacement of the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center building.

According to BYU’s University Communications, in June 2022, the BYU Board of Trustees approved a design for a new art building which is scheduled to start winter of 2023. Because of this rebuild, the three programs currently in the HFAC are in the process of being relocated.

The HFAC was home to all the fine arts students however, only the Art, Design and Theatre & Media Arts programs, their faculty and the administration made the move to the BYU West Campus. The School of Music is still in the HFAC for the semester as they await the completion of their new building set to be done at the end of this year.

The BYU West Campus Central Building will house the fine arts students for the next 3 years. This fall semester has brought a big change to many of the fine arts students due to many classes taking place at the BYU West Campus Central Building. (Anna Hair)

“In February of 2023, the plan is to begin the deconstruction of the current building to clear the ground for the building of the new arts building, scheduled to be completed in 2024-25,” Rory Scanlon, Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, said.

The move to BYU West Campus has required lots of preparation to get it to this point.

“We have turned the large gym into the main stage performance space, the old kitchen into a photo lab and each of its classroom and office spaces into needed teaching and learning spaces for our students,” Scanlon said. 

One of the new BYU stages was added to the WCCB in the past year. This fall semester has brought a big change to many of the fine arts students due to many classes taking place at the BYU West Campus Central Building. (Anna Hair)

The BYU West Campus was previously the old Provo High School. According to the Provo Library, this Provo High building was opened for students in 1956. In 2016, BYU bought Provo High and a new building for Provo High School has since been built.

“I didn’t expect quite so much green,” said Kurk Fullmer, a Media Arts major from Bountiful, Utah. “I knew the Provo Bulldogs were green but I didn’t know it was this green.” Green wall carpet and lockers line many of the hallways in the building.

BYU West main hallway runs throughout the length of the school. This fall semester has brought a big change to many of the fine arts students due to many classes taking place at the BYU West Campus Central Building. (Anna Hair)

Fullmer has been in the program for the last 4 or 5 semesters and currently has most of his classes in the WCCB. One of Fullmer’s favorite parts of having class at BYU West is how separate the students are from the rest of campus.

“It’s not so bad, it’s kind of nice being separated. Everything is here,” Fullmer said. “It doesn’t seem quite as busy [as campus] and there seems to be more space to use.” 

The BYU West campus is approximately a 10-20 minute walk from campus. However, there is a free Ryde shuttle that will take students from the WCCB to the MOA. In addition to the shuttle, there is also a parking lot next to the WCCB that is available to students. 

Jessica Cowden, the costume shop manager for the Department of Theatre and Media Arts said there was a mix of panic and excitement when she was told about the move. “We have windows in the costume shop,” Cowden said.

There are many classrooms throughout the building to provide lectures and hands-on experience for the students. This fall semester has brought a big change to many of the fine arts students due to many classes taking place at the BYU West Campus Central Building. (Anna Hair)

According to Scanlon, the move required a lot of effort from those involved.

“You can imagine that moving just under 50 faculty, the entire departmental staff and close to 1,400 students to a facility just West of the original BYU campus has been a monumental task,” Scanlon said. As he has watched these facility members, students and administration move into the WCCB, he is grateful for their optimism.

“We invite any and all to visit our halls and see the miracle of transforming a former high school into a facility prepared to train students in the professional practices of art, design, theater and media arts,” Scanlon said.

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