As columns began to emerge at the Baskin Law Center, Belmont and community officials broke ground on an even larger building less than a block away Friday.
The groundbreaking was the first official event for the future building on Wedgewood and 15th avenues, tentatively called the Wedgewood Academic Center.
The building, set to be the largest in the university’s history, will house most of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Religion when completed in the fall of 2014. It is expected to cost around $76.5 million and include a 430-car parking garage.
The five-floor facility is slated to have 188,000 square feet of space and “will be the heart of this great campus,” said Dr. Bryce Sullivan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. It will also house 30 classrooms, all with room for at least 24 students, a new dining facility, a 300-seat chapel and a conference room with views of the Nashville skyline.
Before the groundbreaking, Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher noted the yearlong process that included input from student government, faculty and staff and helped develop the building’s features and design.
“I think the process we used this year is a model we can use in the future,” said Fisher.
Sullivan said during the event how the facility will be a continuation of Belmont’s and the College of Arts and Sciences’ emergence from Blanton Hall, once the main academic building on campus that was destroyed in a 1972 fire.
“Beauty has indeed come out of the ashes of Blanton Hall,” he said.
Congressman Jim Cooper and Mayor Karl Dean also participated in the event and spoke before the groundbreaking. Dean jokingly called the university “Nashville’s own stimulus program” for its continued construction and development.
“Belmont has truly been an ideal citizen of the city of Nashville.” he said.