October 8, 2021 | NEWS | By Will Funk | Photo courtesy of Colorado College

The ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the opening of Ed Robson Arena on Sept. 20 may have been a day of celebration for Colorado College’s first full-capacity hockey arena, but for some CC community members, the day marked a sort of funeral. 

The death of the school’s only 3D art studio, along with the B-side Collective Music Space and 801 Gallery, was honored that day by the completion of a $52 million mausoleum. 

Most sports complexes come at the cost of the homes, businesses and communities upon which its foundations are proposed. Ed Robson Arena was no different. The art department was one such community that faced massive setbacks when three of its buildings were torn down during the 2019-2020 school year. 

For the Integrative Design and Architecture (IDA) majors that are now in their fourth and final year at CC, the 2018-2019 school year was the only one in which they could use the original 3D art workshop. 

For some in the art department community, the loss of this workshop created a wound that never fully healed. 

“The 3D workshop was the only building on campus strictly devoted to an art/design education,” said Leo Fowler ’22, an IDA major. “It was our home base, and a creative learning space that promoted collaboration. As a result of the demolition of that square block, my major has been in limbo for three years.”

According to Fowler, the school has done little to remedy the sudden depletion of resources from the art department apart from moving the workshop equipment to “an old gas station space.”

Faced with capacity limitations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new space proved inadequate and “CC plopped two shipping containers on the property and called it good.” 

An email from CC Communications dated Feb. 6, 2020 said that “the 3D Arts program will be temporarily located at 801 N. Nevada for the next two years while a permanent home for the program is designed and constructed.” It added that a renovation of the space was completed at the start of Block 5 and included “a CAD lab, studio space, and workshop area.” 

Yet Fowler expressed his frustation that “an academic major has been virtually on pause for years because CC wanted to promote one of the sports on campus.” 

“Now the administration plans on fixing this problem by placing us in the reject building that was not good enough for the hockey team,” Fowler said.

The school is currently working on moving the 3D workshop into the Honnen Ice Rink, but as of yet, the gas station remains the temporary space in which IDA majors must operate. 

“If properly equipped, [Honnen Ice Rink] could serve as a fantastic studio, however, there will also be a need for an outdoor space, as not all design work, especially sculpture and 3D Design (think forges, chemicals, messy processes, etc.), can be done indoors,” said Andrew Epprecht ’22, another IDA major. 

Many IDA majors are feeling alienated and disrespected by the school’s lack of foresight, despite the fact that planning for the Ed Robson Arena took nearly a decade.

“The fact that we, as a department, were left scrambling for a place to even hold class, is absolutely insane,” said Liza Sher ’22. “To us, as art majors, the message translated as: we care more about athletics than an academic discipline because they can make us more money.”

Fowler points to the irony of the massive construction project, meticulously designed by architects, now sitting on the site of the school’s former 3D art space: “So sick how an architect got to design this!” Fowler commented in a recent Instagram post from CC’s media team acknowledging the ribbon cutting ceremony, “Tough we can’t train any of those anymore.”

Apart from anger stemming from the school’s disregard for the art department over the needs of its hockey team, the removal of the 3D workshop has elicited a collective loss that students are still processing. 

“It was a space that not only provided creative resources and inspiration, but also a community,” Epprecht said. “The short time I spent there helped me find my passions and introduced me to the IDA major.”

“I decided I wanted to be an IDA major while taking a class in that space because I had the privilege of seeing how collaborative that space had the potential to be,” Sher said. “There were students working there at all hours of the day and night. It definitely turned into a social space, too — a space where, even if I wasn’t in a studio class, if I was bored and looking to do something, I’d go there because I was sure I’d see a friendly face who maybe needed an extra set of hands.”

In addition to the loss of the 3D arts studio, the 801 gallery space, which was one of the few school-owned spaces in which students could display their work, and the B-Side art and music collective, a space for BIPOC and LGBTQIA students to show their work, have also been demolished. B-Side moved into the basement of McGregor in the 2019-2020 school year. 

“I think we can collectively agree, as a department, that we spent Block 1 settled in frustration, anger, and sadness. But now that we’ve gotten that out of our system, we’re ready to make some noise,” said Sher. 

Be sure to read The Catalyst for continued coverage of the impacts of Ed Robson Arena and statements from the college administration. 

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