Students look back at HFAC, look forward to new Arts Building

BYU constructs a new photo spot just in time for 2024 graduation. The new sign looks out onto the construction sight for the CFAC’s new Arts Building. (Emmeline Blythe)

As construction of the new BYU Arts Building continues, students and faculty shared memories of the Harris Fine Arts Center and expressed excitement for the opportunities the new facility will provide.

The demolition of the HFAC occurred in April 2023. For more than 50 years, the HFAC was home to BYU’s fine arts students. (Courtesy of John Adams)

So long, HFAC

The 1965 construction of the HFAC is remembered as a representation of the art BYU students create.

There are many memories of love on record for the building. On the Memories of the Harris Fine Arts Center project, Seth J. shares how one of his most prominent memories in the building is with Eric Whitacre directing the Men’s Chorus.

“I’ll miss this beautiful building,” Seth J. said.

The HFAC provided space not only for students studying painting and stage production, but also film, animation, photography and inventions.

“I was 13 when I first stepped foot inside the HFAC. As soon as I saw the art and the student films playing, I knew that film was what I wanted to do in life,” Benjamin V. said.

To accommodate the growth of the arts programs at BYU, reconstruction of the building was necessary to add sufficient space and meet students’ needs.

The Arts Building reaches new heights. Construction is improving on the building’s outer structure. (Emmeline Blythe)

Construction timeline

For more than 50 years, the HFAC was home to BYU’s fine arts students.

“I was sad to see such an important building in BYU history be lost,” student Samuel Gilbert said. “But there was an underlying tone of optimism, realizing that the new facilities would help BYU grow and stay up to date with performance venues and learning spaces.”

Since the HFAC’s demolition, the students have been relocated to the West Campus Central Building, formerly known as the Provo High School, at the far west border of campus.

The Arts Building’s internal design begins to manifest itself. Construction of the building began in 2023. (Emmeline Blythe)

However, as Spring Term arrives on the construction timeline, fine arts students can finally witness the outlines for their future home.

Film student Christian Weeter is one of those students familiarizing themselves with what they can see in BYU’s future.

“I sadly will be graduated before we move back to the new Arts Building. However, I walk by the construction about everyday and I’m honestly surprised how much they’ve already completed,” he said.

Instead of an empty crater on the campus’ forefront, there are walls reaching new heights.

Arts Building expectations

The purpose for constructing the new Arts Building works in conjunction with BYU’s new Music Building. Since BYU hosts a vast selection of different music majors and groups, those students now have a home of their own.

Onlookers can see the Arts Building’s new rooms. The strings of lights show the artistic renderings that will fill the building. (Emmeline Blythe)

Eric Gillett, the associate dean of the CFAC, is quite involved and excited for the prospects the Arts Building is posing daily.

Since the arts is such a collaborative area of study, the new building’s design is specific to such a work environment. In addition to this goal, the CFAC is expecting the gathering spaces will generate ambiance to bring its students together.

“The college has been very involved in the design of the new Arts Building, working with excellent architects, contractors and BYU physical facilities staff to ensure that the building is as good as it can be. As you can imagine, a building this complex requires a lot of combined effort. The college is grateful to work with such an extraordinary group of people to make sure that happens,” he said.

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