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winter 2018
Jerry Richardson and wife signing a beam

It's your world. Build it.

Rosalind and Jerry Richardson sign ceremonial beams for September topping out ceremonies.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College Tuesday celebrated the topping out for the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts. The event also acknowledged the economic impact of the project and the work of construction crews. The building is slated to open in the spring of 2017.

Members of the Robins & Morton construction crews, along with Wofford students, faculty and staff, were invited to sign a ceremonial steel beam that had been signed earlier by Jerry Richardson, owner/founder of the Carolina Panthers, a 1959 Wofford College graduate and a member of Wofford’s board of trustees, who provided the funding for the building named for his wife.

In keeping with the Richardson's spirits of generosity, Mr. Richardson penned the words "Eternally grateful," above his name. Mrs. Richardson wrote "Thank you, Darling," above her name in response to the gift.

“The college’s first designated center for the arts is rising around us,” Dr. Mike Sosulski, Wofford’s new provost, said in thanking the construction crews for their work, “and we must rise to the occasion as well. Already, faculty and students are planning plays and exhibits and programs in this new space. The college is planning a community open house event and ways to share this beautiful new facility with the Spartanburg community.”

The 65,000-square-foot Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts is scheduled to open in the spring of 2017. It will house academic programs in theatre arts, visual arts and art history, plus a 300-seat performance hall, studio space, museum and gallery spaces, classrooms and offices.

“Those of us who have been eagerly watching the building rise now have a sense of how grand it will be,” President Nayef H. Samhat said, “and I, for one, will be counting the days until the spring opening of the college’s very first building devoted solely to the arts.”

He continued, “This day is about celebrating our construction teams. Rain or shine, through humid 95-degree heat and blistering cold, our Robins & Morton crews have dug and hauled and hammered and built. We appreciate their hard work, attention to detail and commitment to excellence. Who knows, maybe a child or grandchild of a member of the construction crew will one day be a student at Wofford College taking classes in the new building, creating an art exhibit or acting in a play.”

During the construction of the building, Robins & Morton and its subcontractors have erected 750 tons of steel and rebar, laid 75,000 block and placed 2,460 yards of concrete, with more still to come. “A total of 250 skilled craftsmen have worked on the project with 92 employees on site at peak,” Sosulski said. “These individuals bring with them 930 years of cumulative experience. I’m also especially proud to announce that as of Aug. 31, Robins & Morton crews had worked 70,141 man-hours without a loss time incident.”

He added that about 70 percent of employees on the project have come from Spartanburg or Greenville counties, and 80 percent of subcontracted labor has come from the Carolinas. In addition, 26 percent of the subcontracted dollars support minority vendors. “The impact of these employees and subcontractors is multiplied by the dollars they invest back into the community through housing, taxes, food and shopping,” he adds. “The total investment is immense, and it still doesn’t touch the impact that this new building will have on generations of Wofford College students.”

Samhat praised the generosity of Richardson for donating the building in honor of his wife. “I know that the Richardsons will say that this day is not about them, but we would not be where we are right now – enjoying this beautiful day and the topping out of this remarkable building – without their gift. Thank you.”

Tristan Krebs, a junior theatre major from Louisville, Ky., told the crowd, “My college experience has been remarkable, but this building will give me and the next 100 years of Wofford students opportunities to prepare for our futures that we could only imagine before. On behalf of the Wofford students pursuing their interests in the arts, I’d like to thank every architect, welder, subcontractor, supervisor, painter, brick mason and bulldozer driver. We appreciate you and your work.”

The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, which will feature a material pallet of masonry, stucco and copper, was designed by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architects in Spartanburg. Large areas of glass will connect the interior to the outdoors, filling art studios with natural light and creating a sense of transparency and openness between spaces and across an outdoor courtyard. The building will be energy efficient and will feature high-performance theatrical lighting, rigging and audiovisual systems.

The building will feature two custom-made glass sculptures by internationally renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

by Laura Hendrix Corbin, Fall 2016