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First Floor Renovation

Submitted on March 1, 2021 - 4:40pm
Marisa Williamson performance in Jacob Lawrence Gallery
2020 Jacob Lawrence Legacy Resident Marisa Williamson performing in conjunction with the opening of Angel of History. Image taken by Corinne Thrash prior to COVID-19.


An idea born six years ago will become a reality in the next two years. More than half of the Art Building's first floor will be renovated. The result will be a more visible location for the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, with significantly improved facilities, as well as upgraded classrooms and workshops. This idea received new life eighteen months ago after visits to the Art and Music Buildings as part of a campus-wide building tour by then newly appointed Provost Mark Richards. He made it a top priority to improve these arts spaces. His commitment, matched by College of Arts & Sciences Dean Robert Stacey, is moving the project forward.

Jacob Lawrence Gallery

The School's gallery was named in honor of Jacob Lawrence, with his support, in 1994. Lawrence was a renowned artist and faculty member who taught at the University of Washington from 1970–1985. The gallery is a tangible, living legacy of Lawrence's exemplary life and practice.

The Jacob Lawrence Gallery supports students through graduation exhibitions, an annual BIPOC graduate curatorial fellowship, and paid gallery internships. It also provides exposure to the work of BIPOC artists through exhibitions and the Jacob Lawrence Legacy Residency, which was established in 2015, and by maintaining W.A.G.E. certification for artist fees. It is a community hub, partnering with other campus entities, such as The Black Embodiments Studio, as well as numerous community partners. This includes twenty-three organizations since 2017.

After the renovation, the gallery will have a prominent location in the northeast wing of the Art Building. In addition to general physical upgrades, it will have much-needed climate control and security improvements. There will also be a gathering space outside the gallery that opens into the building's courtyard.

Other Spaces

Among the other changes on the first floor are:

  • Significantly enhanced layout and infrastructure including a comprehensive dust collection system for both the Woodshop and Advanced Concepts Lab.
  • A bench work / sculpture studio with a window wall viewable from the Stevens Way entrance to the building.
  • Relocation of the glass lampworking studio with necessary safety improvements.
  • A new introductory ceramic studio classroom maximizing natural light and visibility.


The School of Art + Art History + Design has received a commitment from both Dean Robert Stacey and Provost Mark Richards to provide significant funding for a $14 million project to remodel aspects of both the Art and Music Buildings, with a commitment from them to move full speed ahead with the Art Building project now. Through a public-private partnership, the University will invest $10 million with private donations accounting for the final $4 million.

Meeting this goal will require our community of supporters joining together to invest the final $4 million to elevate our arts spaces and expand their reach and impact. For additional information, please contact Stephanie Kornfeld, Director of Advancement for the Arts, at