Maine Media College plans new multi-purpose building

Leaving Shepherd Building in 2020
By Gabriel Blodgett | Aug 05, 2019
Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett Maine Media Workshops + College is planning a new multi-purpose building at its 70 Camden St. campus.

Rockport — Maine Media Workshops + College has received approval from the Planning Board to build a new classroom and office building on its 70 Camden St. campus.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Elizabeth Greenberg told the board that the new building “allows us the opportunity to have flexible office space and flexible classroom space where we’ll consolidate everything over to our ‘homestead campus.’”

Construction of the new building, which President Meg Weston said is expected to be ready in April or May 2020, means that Maine Media will move out of the Shepherd building when its lease expires in July 2020.

The new building will be 40 feet by 82 feet and contain three classrooms upstairs, two of which can be combined to form a larger classroom, and storage and office space in the lower level. Weston said the building would allow for a wider array of classes and create better settings for master's of fine arts and workshop programs that require plenty of well-lit display space, as well as improved options for photo studio and production classes. It will also prove beneficial in accommodating larger class sizes in the summer workshop season that runs from June through September.

“As technology changes, the needs of our spaces have changed,” Greenberg said. “We’re desperate for large-form rooms that can be subdivided,” she said, adding that the new building is “really critical for the growth of our programs.”

Weston said with the end of the lease approaching, the school began looking at potential alternatives to the downtown space. She noted that many students enjoy the environment  on campus, and the opportunity for “consolidation but also growth,” provided by the new building was enough to make the decision.

Maine Media Workshops was started in Union Hall in 1973 by Robert Lyman. According to Weston, he bought the Camden Street property in the 1970s and many of the buildings that now sit on the 20-acre campus were built in the 1990s. The college has been offering an MFA program since 1995.

After 10 years in the Shepherd Building, Weston said Maine Media will miss having space downtown, including the gallery it shares with Tim Whelan Photographic Books, which she said has been a “wonderful place for people to stop in,” especially before or after summer lectures on Monday and Tuesday nights at the Rockport Opera House. She said in the future the school will consider different ways to maintain a presence off-campus.

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