The Schweinfurth Art Center recently completed a $543,000 project to upgrade its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, adding both to its second floor gallery and studio classroom. The contractor for the project was Century Heating & Air-Conditioning in Syracuse.
“This project will enable us to offer more exhibits and classes, since it will allow us to use the second floor facilities year-round,” said Schweinfurth Executive Director Donna Lamb. “Until now that area had inadequate heating and no air conditioning.”
Planning for the project began in 2017, when the art center’s Board of Trustees developed a long-term plan for the facility. They picked the HVAC system as their top priority – the first of a three-part master plan – because it would allow the art center to expand its offerings.
In 2018, the art center won a $249,616 matching grant from the New York State Council on the Arts through the Regional Economic Development Council, and fundraising began in earnest. The Schweinfurth received funding from the Allyn Foundation, Cayuga Community Foundation, Columbian Foundation, D.E. French Foundation, Emerson Foundation, John Ben Snow Foundation, Osborne Memorial Association, Schwartz Foundation, and the Stanley W. Metcalf Foundation.
The project was designed by Taitem Engineering in consultation with InSite Architecture. Construction began in January 2020 with the goal of reopening in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with those plans. Construction and the facility shut down in mid-March for two months until the state began reopening slowly in mid-May. Construction was completed July 30, 2020.
Since then, staff have been working to prepare the art center for reopening, including retrofitting the facility to meet pandemic safety protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and New York State Health Department, and installing the center’s next exhibit, “Made in NY.” The show will open to exhibiting artists on Friday, Aug. 7, and to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 11. No opening reception will be held due to COVID-19 concerns.
The art center was fortunate to be in the middle of HVAC installation when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The CDC recommendations for reopening a building after a prolonged closure include inspection and repeated testing of its HVAC system. However, that was unnecessary for the Schweinfurth’s new system, which has the capacity to replace air every 30 minutes.
“We are happy to be reopening with ‘Made in NY,’ which features the work of artists who live throughout New York State,” Lamb said. “We are reopening slowly, starting with exhibits and then adding classes, workshops, and other events throughout the fall.”
The art center is open to the public 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays starting Aug. 11 with a $7 admission fee for nonmembers. The hour from 10 to 11 each morning is restricted to Schweinfurth members who make reservations to visit with friends and family.