Students in the MSU School of Art can breathe a little easier knowing that improvements to the Haynes Hall ventilation system are on their way. This past week, the funding for the first stage of improvements to the ventilation system was approved by the ASMSU Senate.
Haynes Hall houses the School of Art and was built in 1974 to meet the needs of the program at that time. Since then, the demands from the MSU School of Art and art as a discipline have changed and the current ventilation system is unable to meet the needs of those that use the building. According to Vaughan Judge, director of the School of Art, “this building was designed to keep all the air inside the building for heating purposes.” Students in Haynes Hall work with metals, welding torches, oxy acetylene, paints and paint solvents, printmaking and ceramics with clay which puts silicate in the air, and Judge explained that, “once particulates or chemicals get in the air, they don’t leave the building.” Multiple students have had air quality related health issues and Judge noted that often students need to step outside of the classrooms because of light-headedness.
The air quality of Haynes Hall meets the standards set by the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration and there are no immediate or life-threatening health risks to those that use the building. Complaints about air quality from students and faculty, concern for student health and maintaining accreditation standards led the School of Art and University Facilities to push for the ventilation system improvements in Haynes Hall.
Currently, the School of Art at MSU is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). According to Judge, out of 1,500 schools that offer art and design programs across the country, only 338 have full accreditation. On their recent accreditation visit, NASAD highlighted the air quality of Haynes Hall as an issue, and according to Judge, “[the MSU School of Art] could lose our national accreditation because of [the air quality of Haynes Hall], because it does fall below NASAD standards and guidelines.” Judge stressed the importance of this accreditation because MSU’s School of Art is ranked 93 in fine arts education by the U.S. News and World Report.
Students from many disciplines across campus utilize Haynes Hall. According to Judge, the MSU School of Art has close to 400 art majors and 700 to 800 students taking an art core class, and Haynes Hall has up to 1,400 students a year using the building. Judge said, “I don’t think there is one major on the campus that isn’t in one of our classes.”
The $600,000 needed for the first stage of improvements will come from building fees paid by MSU students. The funding has been approved by both the University Facilities Planning Board and, just recently, the ASMSU Senate, which must approve the use of student fees at amounts that large. The first stage of the project will address the metals area, a space highlighted because of concerns from melted metals, fumes and chemicals. According to Randy Stephens, university architect with Campus Planning, Design and Construction, the project is broken up into five phases with a total expected cost of $2.5 million. Judge said the next stages will address ceramics, sculpture and printmaking, and that he hopes over a five year period the air quality will be, “up to scratch.”
The School of Art has already spent $100,000 on the ventilation project with $50,000 addressing an immediate complaint in painting, putting in a state of the art ventilation system for the painting studio that expels the fumes from that area outside the building. The other $50,000 was spent on surveying all of Haynes Hall to come up with a conceptual plan for the rest of the building. Funding for these projects also came from student fees.
Due to the desire to minimize the project’s impact on students that currently use Haynes Hall, most of the work is scheduled to be done during the summers when building usage is lower. The project is expected to begin either summer 2016 or summer 2017.