Project Update: Arts Center of Mississippi
December 5, 2018
This project update was provided by Project Manager Chris Myers. The project was announced via press conference at the Arts Center on Thursday, November 29. presented CDFL’s design along with statements from Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr., and members of former First Lady Pat Fordice’s family.
The Arts Center of Mississippi building was constructed in the late 1970s as the Civic Arts Center of Jackson. Along with the Planetarium, it was designed by Biggs Weir Architects, one of the most prominent mid-century modernist architects in Mississippi. The building has faithfully lived up to its name as the art center of Jackson, whether housing multiple arts organizations, the Mississippi Museum of Art, or acting as rehearsal space for the International Ballet Competition. Even though the arts center has maintained its status as a home for the arts, time has not been so kind to the building itself. It’s time for a facelift.
The Greater Jackson Arts Council approached CDFL about developing a proposal for an interior renovation. The primary goal of the renovation is to bring the building’s dramatic public spaces a new life and includes replacing all of the interior finishes – vinyl flooring, ceiling systems, and a fresh coat of paint. In the central atrium space, cork pin-up boards and new lighting throughout will provide flexibility for displaying a wide variety of art media. Most importantly, the monumental stair, the centerpiece of the building, will be opened back up to reveal the floating concrete steps of its original design, adding more natural light to an already dramatic space. To honor two of Jackson’s greatest patrons of the arts, the first floor atrium will be named after former Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr., and the second floor atrium space will be named in memory of former first lady Pat Fordice.
Through this renovation, and all of the work happening in the downtown arts district, we want the world to know that the arts are alive and well in Jackson, Mississippi, and about to get a lot stronger. With this project and the work we are doing to improve Thalia Mara Hall, the downtown arts district is starting to take shape.
Fundraising for renovations of the Arts Center will be begin soon. Please stay tuned for updates.
Harvey Johnson, Jr. First Atrium
The dramatic central space of the building is naturally lit by a large skylight. To make better use of the gallery walls, cork pinup boards will be added, along with gallery lighting. The ceremonial stair will be returned to its original design by opening up the risers. New flooring and paint will further lighten the space. New lighting will be added at the perimeter of the skylight to allow a full range of color for evening events.
Pat Fordice Gallery Atrium
The second floor gallery atrium is the most commonly used space for large events.
Along with receiving all new finishes, a highly customizable lighting system will be added to allow for flexibility in displays, exhibits, and events.