Campus News

UK to Proceed With Renovations to University Lofts, Gatton Building


LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 19, 2012) ― The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees has approved the initiation of renovations for two properties, University Lofts and the Carol Martin Gatton College of Business and Economics building. The proposed changes will enhance the studies of visual arts and business students, as well as help both programs continue to attract the best prospective students and faculty.

Renovations on University Lofts, a sprawling, brick building located on Bolivar Street immediately adjacent to the UK campus, will transform a current loft-style apartment building into art studios and class and gallery space for the UK School of Art and Visual Studies in the UK College of Fine Arts.

UK took possession of the University Lofts in June 2011 and for the past year has fulfilled lease agreements of the previous owner's tenants. As part of the 2012 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, the university received authorization to begin the estimated $8 million renovation needed to make the residential facility into an academic space to replace the aging  Reynolds Building No. 1, where art studios and classrooms are currently housed. 

Financed with university funds already budgeted for the project, the renovations will allow for a wide-open floor plan with institutional HVAC systems and the necessary air exhaust systems for certain fine arts safety needs, new lighting, modern accessible restrooms and other amenities that will optimize the space for UK's art students.

Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees today approved the initiation of the design phase for a renovation and expansion of the Gatton Building.

The $4 million project is for design only to prepare the necessary plans for the project, which is aimed at adding 65,000 gross square feet to the existing 138,000 gross square-foot building.  The new space would include eight new classrooms and a 500- seat auditorium, as well as an atrium with a café and seating area.  The original 1963 building, together with the 1991 addition, will be renovated and updated to include the latest technology.

Work is ready to proceed on the University Lofts Building.

Several years ago, UK began exploring a number of options to rehabilitate Reynolds Building No. 1, an academic building that presently houses instructional areas in the UK School of Art and Visual Studies. Like the University Lofts, Reynolds Building No. 1 is a former tobacco warehouse and processing facility. But unlike the Lofts, the 77-year-old Reynolds Building has never had a major renovation, making the space unsuitable for student and faculty use. UK asked the state for $17 million in renovation funding in 2008, but it was not appropriated.

Beyond the day-to-day structural, operational and safety impediments, Reynolds Building No. 1 has hindered the UK School of Art and Visual Studies’ education process and recruitment efforts.

The change in facility will benefit the instructional needs of faculty and students by allowing the School of Art and Visual Studies the opportunity to plan and arrange programs in a more efficient and effective manner as well as allow most of the school's faculty to work under one roof. Along with class space for art studios, faculty studios, graduate studios, and spaces for advanced undergraduate work, the Barnhart Gallery, the primary public exhibition space for students in Reynolds Building No. 1, will also be relocated to the University Lofts structure. The renovations will help UK School of Art and Visual Studies maintain its accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and enhance UK's role as the Commonwealth's best art studio program, the only one that offers the Master of Fine Arts (MFA).

"I applaud the bold vision and leadership of President Capilouto and the Board of Trustees for their commitment to arts training and scholarship at UK," said UK College of Fine Arts Dean Michael Tick. "The University Lofts project will have a positive impact on our ability to recruit and retain talented students and faculty."

In addition to art classes, several UK Core creative path classes will be offered at the University Lofts.

If renovations go as planned, UK students could be creating paintings, drawings, digital media, fiber works, prints, ceramics and sculptures in the facility as early as the spring semester of 2014.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or

                                 Carl Nathe, (859) 257-3200 or