Lesley University Combines Old with New in Recent Renovation

An Image of the outside of Lesley University

An Image of the outside of Lesley University

How does a 170 Year Old Church become a “Nexxus for the Arts” in Cambridge? With a lot of dedication and patience.  It took 10 years for Lesley College’s School of Art and Design to build a state of the art facility for their students.  On March 31st, IFMA’s Programs Committee set up a tour called, “Lesley College, Something Old, Something New,” which showed exactly why it took so long and why it was worth the effort.  The 70,000 square foot facility, much of it underground, is surprisingly compact yet filled with everything including a photo lab, a historic printing press, green screens, gas and electric kilns, a fully equipped wood shop and internet access throughout.  The students were in class and working on projects while we toured the facility and it was clear they were loving their space.

Members of Lesley University giving a tour of the renovated facility

Members of Lesley University giving a tour of the renovated facility

The panel discussion following the tour detailed the painstaking efforts the team went through to get as much space as possible for the students, preserve (and move!) the historic church (now the school library), and engage the community in their ongoing projects. The stained glass windows from the original church are being restored and placed back into the project on an on-going basis and add just the right touch to the peaceful library.   Dean Richard Zauft also spoke about how important it was to him to bring the community into the school not just through exhibits but workshops and summer programs.  When asked about what they would have done differently, each panelist had a different answer.  “More wall space to display art”, “More storage for art projects”, “Easier building controls” were among the responses.  Even with those wishes yet to be filled, the space has done what it was supposed to do:  upgrade facilities for students, unite a formerly dis-jointed campus and invite the community in.

  • Georgiana Olwell, ECO Logic Ltd. – IFMA Community Projects Committee Member