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Arts & Sciences announces plan for new building, launches strategic plan

Coinciding with the launch of the Arts & Sciences strategic plan, Washington University in St. Louis announced plans to construct a new state-of-the-art building for the school.

Washington University in St. Louis plans to construct a new state-of-the-art building for Arts & Sciences, the largest school on the Danforth Campus, announced Chancellor Andrew D. Martin.

The university’s Board of Trustees was advised of the administration’s commitment for the new building, estimated to be between 90,000 and 120,000 square feet. This project will move forward through the board approval process. The building and the surrounding landscape will create a new quad at the heart of campus, west of Olin Library and north of Graham Chapel.

The new Arts & Sciences building will be located directly west of Olin Library and north of Graham Chapel, near the center of the Danforth Campus.

Martin announced plans for the new building during a Dec. 6 kickoff event for the “Power of Arts & Sciences,” a weeklong series of virtual events highlighting the school’s impact and launch of its strategic plan.

Martin was joined by Beverly Wendland, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, in making the announcement to Feng Sheng Hu, dean of Arts & Sciences, and an audience of Arts & Sciences faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.

“As an alumnus of the school of Arts & Sciences, it is with great excitement that I bring you news that will, I believe, transform Arts & Sciences at Washington University,” Martin said.

“The new building presents an extraordinary opportunity for Arts & Sciences to enhance its academic distinction by housing premier departments and programs, support its commitment to diversity and inclusion, strengthen student-facing academic services and resources, and showcase its vibrant intellectual community through signature event and gathering spaces,” Martin added.

“The new building will enable key components of the Arts & Sciences and university strategic plans: a targeted investment in key departments and units that supports the goal of scholarly and educational distinction.”

While the building’s occupancy has yet to be finalized, Martin said the building’s central location conveys the school’s role as an essential driver of the university’s academic mission and its responsibility to serve as a connector for scholarly and educational partnerships with other schools and units across campus.

This building gives us a new and highly visible presence at the heart of campus — a home for Arts & Sciences both literally and figuratively — and my hope is it becomes a gathering place for our entire community.

Feng Sheng Hu, dean of Arts & Sciences

“We approach every building project on our campus holistically, carefully balancing the physical structure with its surrounding outdoor spaces,” said Jamie Kolker, associate vice chancellor and university architect. “The planning and design process will consider the natural characteristics of the site to create the most dynamic and beautiful space possible for our university community.

“This approach builds on the original 1900 Cope and Stewardson campus plan that emphasized quads and outdoor rooms as much as physical structures,” Kolker added.

Martin said the building will serve as an investment not just in the school or the campus, but in the students and faculty that comprise it. “Arts & Sciences is at the heart of our mission of improving lives in service of the greater good, and we’re overjoyed to be able to invest so significantly in its future,” he said.

The Arts & Sciences strategic plan – A Transformative Decade: Convergence, Creativity, Community – outlines foundations, pillars, and initiatives that will guide the school's progress over the next decade. Read the plan at strategicplan.artsci.wustl.edu. 

The timing of the announcement coincides with the public release Monday of the Arts & Sciences strategic plan.

“I want to congratulate the Arts & Sciences community on the launch of its strategic plan,” Wendland said during the virtual event. “Dean Hu has spoken of this community’s work in developing the plan, and it’s so inspiring to see the shared effort that has gone into this process. It’s a plan that the school should be proud of — one filled with bold, innovative ideas for driving convergence, creativity and community.

“A strategic plan is only as strong as the people who build it,” Wendland said. “It’s ultimately the people who will bring Arts & Sciences’ plan to life, and I can tell you that A&S is full of talented, thoughtful people who are fully invested in the work we do here at WashU.

“And I’m delighted that we are able to make this investment in a new building as it puts Arts & Sciences on a trajectory to success at a critical moment of advancement for our institution,” Wendland added.

Hu anticipates that the announcement will strengthen an emerging climate of excitement in Arts & Sciences — one that the school’s leadership attributes to the new possibilities and opportunities laid out in the strategic plan.

“I am beyond thrilled at this extraordinary support for our school,” Hu said. “This building gives us a new and highly visible presence at the heart of campus — a home for Arts & Sciences both literally and figuratively — and my hope is it becomes a gathering place for our entire community.”

More detailed plans, including an architect and timeline, will be shared early next year.


This story originally appeared on The Source