Art and Design program to be part of Peak Innovation Center

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 468 views 

While it is still in the design stage, Fort Smith Public School officials hope to have plans for the stage two of Peak Innovation Center to the construction company for pricing by the end of November.

Nate Deason with MAHG Architecture, told the FSPS Board of Education at a Sept. 25 school board meeting that designs are being completed on the Peak Innovation Center Art Space project.

The project includes a 2,800-square-foot renovation of the east side of the center for studio space, classrooms and storage, Deason said.  The area does not have specific plans for a gallery space per se, but Peak is a large building, so there could be opportunities to display art in other parts of the building, said Shari Cooper, FSPS director of communications.

“The last time we were here presenting on this project, it was actually located on the other side of the building in the empty warehouse space. We wrapped up our design, and it was bid, and it came back a little more expensive than we could proceed with,” Deason said.

The FSPS facilities department was tracking a rough estimate of $1.4 million for the original space, Cooper said. MAHG was then tasked with working the program into space on the east end of the main building, where retrofitted classroom spaces are located, and consolidating the program while still achieving the same function, he said. The new space on the east side of the building has an estimated budget of $650,000, Cooper said.

“We met with the instructor, and she gave us a laundry list of equipment that we designed around. We’re confident that they can make this size work,” Deason said.

That project is expected to go to Nabholz Construction, the construction manager at risk for the project, by the end of November, Deason said. There is no established timeline on the project, Cooper said.

Once completed, the area will house the district’s Emerging Art and Design Program. The PEAK Emerging Art & Design pathway is available exclusively to FSPS students and incorporates three areas of study: media arts, art history, and studio art, Cooper said. Students enrolled for two years will prepare for examination in AP Art History and certification in Adobe Illustrator. Three-year students will also complete AP Studio Art 2D Design portfolios, Cooper said.

“Emerging Art & Design students at PEAK will discover how art is used as a tool of communication and influence. They will investigate art by creating, responding, and connecting with designs across cultures and time periods,” Cooper said. “Students will generate and conceptualize artistic ideas that integrate real-world issues using industry-standard technology and equipment. They will develop a portfolio of work demonstrating 21st-century skills, present in gallery exhibitions to peers and community partners, and gain the skills necessary to earn technical certifications in industry-recognized digital software.”

The Emerging Art & Design program is new for this 2023-24 school year, beginning this fall in two classrooms at Peak. The new space will allow room for a new group of students to the program next year.

While many of the programs at Peak are part of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Western Arkansas Technical Center (WATC) program, the Emerging Art & Design program is not. It is an FSPS high school credit program that combines traditional art and career technology.