Dordt College News

Dordt’s new academic complex to benefit art, digital media, future teachers

February 24, 2009

Academic Complex

Construction of a $4.5 million academic complex is underway at Dordt College, providing exciting new academic space for growing enrollment in art/graphic design, digital media film production, and teacher education.

Upon completion next fall, the new addition to Dordt’s oldest building will be called the Douglas and Henrietta (Miedema) Ribbens Academic Complex, honoring two early contributors to the success of Dordt College.

Art majors will sculpt, paint, and do print-making in new areas, and enjoy use of a newly remodeled art gallery and a kiln room.

Digital media majors and graphic design students  will work in spacious computer labs equipped with the latest AVID movie production software and network servers. More workstations will be available for growing graphic design, web design, animation, and digital media classes. The space will continue to support the collaboration between graphic design and digital media as areas of art and communication. There will also be a soft-seating area for round-table team project discussion and a project critique display area.

Student teachers will use state-of-the-art (and newly emerging) educational technology in a smart technology classroom; a science methods classroom; and three other new model classrooms. An education faculty suite will provide space for education faculty offices and informal learning areas for professors and students to discuss teaching strategies.

Other amenities for next year’s students include an expanded entry lobby that provides additional space for students to interact with faculty and peers.

Art Addition
During a year of construction, art students at Dordt have gotten their share of exercise, with art classes relocated everywhere from a gymnasium mezzanine to a temporary doublewide trailer, making way for construction crews.

But come next fall, the art department will have a centralized facility with 13,000 square feet of office, studio, photography space, digital media labs, and expanded gallery/display areas.

“Returning and future students will have great facilities to do expanded media and larger works, in a safer and more organized environment,” says Art Professor Jake Van Wyk. “New gallery areas will provide a setting for the display of both student and professional artwork.”

Van Wyk and a group of six advanced ceramic students are in the process of creating a clay floor-to-ceiling column installation for semi-permanent display outside the art facilities entrance, incorporating biblical symbolism and apocalyptic images. The sculpting of the project began last fall, with firing and installation continuing into the summer months.

The complex will feature large studio areas with skylights in the painting, sculpture, and ceramic spaces. Extensive built in cabinetry; vented hood areas, and dust removal systems will improve the efficiency, safety and comfort of students learning the latest artistic concepts. The new digital media lab will be equipped for animation and graphic design emphases. Dordt’s art program also has emphases in fine arts studio, art history, teaching art, or pre-architecture.

Digital Media/Graphic Design Addition
Larger computer labs and the switch from a 4 TB media server to a 16 TB media server in January will accommodate continued growth in digital media film production.

“The growth of the program, the aggressive pace of shooting of many of the majors, and the migration to shooting in high definition requires a much larger space for shared storage,” says Digital Media Professor Mark Volkers.

On a recent filming trip to the Philippines for example, 10 students and Professor Volkers generated close to 30 hours of both SD and HD footage that will be used to create three videos. The 16 TB server will easily handle that much footage, leaving plenty of room for class projects and independent study projects.

The additional computer stations will also be used extensively by graphic design, web design, and animation classes taught by Professor David Ver Sluis.

Teacher Education Addition
The best ways to teach and learn are yet to be discovered or invented, say Dordt’s teacher education faculty members. “Our new facilities will provide more opportunities for our students to gain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to be change-makers in education,” says Dennis Vander Plaats, Director/Professor of Teacher Education.

Dordt’s new model classrooms will be larger and equipped with modular seating, storage and tables that allow flexible, creative classroom teaching styles. “The classrooms will promote collaborative and cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, and conceptual learning,” says Vander Plaats.

New facilities will also include a student lounge area and a teacher workroom, structured to simulate actual K-12 school workrooms, available for exchanging ideas and developing teaching and learning materials.

“With new and proper facilities, our students will be better equipped to be leaders in helping their schools to dream dreams about what education can be, can look like, and can accomplish,” says Vander Plaats. “This forward-looking facility will support us in preparing the next generation of creative and highly qualified teachers, the teachers America’s schools need.”

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