Renovated Wayland Hall to be Transformed by the Arts


Imagine entering your residence hall and being greeted by a gallery of art-studded walls. Visualize yourself watching a practice dance rehearsal or catching the faint murmur of the saxophone streaming through the air. Beginning in fall 2011, the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts will not be the only place to witness and hear such talent. Next year, expect this and more in James Madison University's Wayland Hall.

Wayland Hall will house JMU's newest learning community, which features a unique collaboration between the Office of Residence Life and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The redesign is focused on creating a living and learning center for students interested in the arts. 

Redesigning Wayland 

According to Maggie Evans, director of the Office of Residence Life, the renovation includes new performance, exhibition, practice and classroom space. 

The multipurpose space on the ground floor will offer impeccable acoustics, retractable stadium seating and traces of bluestone interior walls. "Instead of parking, there will be a series of gardens, seating, bike paths and storm water drainage that will provide a relaxing outdoor space for students to sit and read or talk together," Evans said. 

Wayland will be a very arts-active community, allowing students to gather for group rehearsals, meet for class, view and critique hallmates' performances and revel in the joy of the arts�all in the comfort of their own home. 

"It is comforting for students to begin their college experience in a community where they can express their passion for the arts right off the bat," said George Sparks, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. 

One-of-a-Kind Learning Community 

Wayland's new learning community will be the first of its kind at JMU. The community will cater to the multiple CVPA disciplines offered at JMU, including theater, dance, music, art and art history. 

Facilitating the development of a broader, holistic appreciation of art, the learning community will expose students to a wider range of skills and talents separate from their fields of concentration. 

"I am excited all the arts will be interconnected in one living community," said Sparks. "We want to get as many interdisciplinary divisions involved, for the creative spirit is infectious." 

Students choosing this learning community will take one common class together taught in their hall. Sparks is excited about the potential of teaching a cross-theory class to this diverse group of students that will include excursions and lectures from visiting faculty. 

Although future composers, performers, art educators and artists will be naturally drawn to this learning community, Wayland Hall is envisioned to be a "melting pot" of students. The learning community will welcome freshmen from any major with an interest and passion for the arts. 

While the learning community will consist of roughly 15 to 60 freshmen during the first year, Evans said the option of incorporating upper-class students will be considered as the program grows. 

National Stage 

The Forbes Center opening, the arts-focused redesign of Wayland Hall and its arts-based learning community all contribute to JMU's commitment to educating outstanding future visual and performing artists. 

Sparks did not hold back his excitement, saying, "JMU is creating a real national place for the arts." 

Published: Monday, September 27, 2010

Last Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

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