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VOL. 41 | NO. 18 | Friday, May 05, 2017

‘Wacky’ silos a nod to Watkins creativity

By Linda Bryant

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The most recent example of creative flair at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film took place recently when the school unveiled its new Silo Studios, 5,000-square-feet of studio space for graduating seniors to use while working on their final year theses.

The project and a new “art walk” space cost about $800,000, says J. Kline, Watkins president.

Why silos, you may ask? Kline answers:

“Because we are artists. We are fun, inventive, if not a little wacky. We wanted to look at repurposed structures for the studios. We started with shipping containers, but, we all had the same reaction. We’d already seen shipping containers being used. It was ‘been there, done that’ type of thing.’”

Kline adds silos represent Watkins’ unorthodox thinking in other ways. For the most part, the silos were pre-made, which made it possible for them to be assembled efficiently. They ended up giving the college twice as much square footage as was initially envisioned with traditional building practices.

Kline also says the silos are a visual academic joke, explaining that different academic disciplines are often referred to as being in sharply divided into metaphorical “silos.”

Typically, leaders in education want to tear such silos down.

“It’s been a main topic of discussion in higher education for a long time – the need to de-silo the disciplines,” Kline explains. “We couldn’t resist that the art schools answer to the academia was to erect silos. And the more we investigated; it became a practical, possible solution.”

Hendersonville-based R. Alexander Architecture designed the repurposed silos, which are new and were never used to store grain. Concord Building Group was the contractor.

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