Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Clark Arts Center

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Institution Name: Rockford College
Original/Historic Place Name: Clark Arts Center
Location on Campus: 5050 East State St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1968-1970original construction Perkins + Will
Designer: Perkins & Will
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: reinforced concrete walls and spread footings
Walls: reinforced concrete frame and flat slab, steel frames
Roof: precast roof and poured slabs, wooden shingles
ca. 1970-present (2006)theater (William Arthur Maddox theater; Mary Ashby Cheek Experimental theater; music and dance performance space)
ca. 1970-present (2006)museum (galleries for art exhibitions, permanent collection)
ca. 1970-present (2006)academic department building (art, theater, music, dance)

Clark Arts Center was designed to provide fine arts facilities adequate for a total college enrollment of 1200 students. Its location is on a sloping site with many trees. Special effort was made to save trees and maintain existing landscape character. The complex consists of an interior court surrounded by six art studios with related offices on a second level, plus a theater seating approximately 500 with a stage house and shop on the main level and a laboratory theater, dressing rooms, and storage on a lower level. There is also an adjacent three-level unit housing an art gallery, music and dance rehearsal studio, and teaching and practice rooms. The center was designed so that all areas of the division--theater, music, dance, and arts-would be interrelated.

There is permanent art work on display in CAC, some of which is particularly notable, including:

A Sepik River Queen Pole (totem pole) was installed in a stairwell before the stairs were built. Professor Philip Dedrick purchased the pole, which dates from the first quarter of the 20th century.

Friezes, facsimiles of della Robia are installed along the hall that leads to the music rooms on the top level. The friezes were originally hung in the refectory on the old campus.

Akadian Reliefs from the Tigress/Euphrates river area are on the middle (courtyard) level. They were a gift from the Art Institute of Chicago and were originally placed in Blackstone Hall on the old campus. They are plaster casts estimated to have been reproduced from originals in the 19th century.

Assyrian Relief installed on the middle (courtyard) level, from the Second Dynasty from the reign of Ashurnazirpal II, originally placed in Blackstone Hall on the old campus.

In the courtyard:

A fountain designed by Hon Ching Lee for Rockford College, when CAC first opened. It is an iron amalgam that is in two pieces.

St. George and the Dragon, a ceramic sculpture by Julie Fichter, who is a graduate of Rockford College. This piece was composed of many parts that were put together with sticks, many of which have decayed.

Ceramic sculpture, designed to be thought of as a bird, created by Henry Joe Chon.


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Last update: November 2006