‘Topping-out’ ceremony marks Artis Center milestone

H. Pat Artis, Ph.D., (left) and Nancy E. Artis ’73 (center) stand with Radford University President Bret Danilowicz before the beam is lifted at the topping out ceremony July 22, 2022.

As construction continues on Radford University’s new Artis Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity, representatives from the university and Skanska, the company erecting what soon will be the largest academic building on campus, gathered near the building site for a “topping-out” ceremony, marking a significant milestone for the project.

The 178,000-square-foot Artis Center will support the evolving needs of many academic programs and inspire increased collaboration among students and faculty from across disciplines.

Once construction is completed in late 2023, the multi-story building will be the largest academic building on campus. It will be home to the College of Visual and Performing Arts and provide blended student spaces serving the Waldron College of Health and Human Services and the Artis College of Science and Technology.

The center is named for alumna Nancy E. Artis ’73 and her husband, H. Pat Artis, Ph.D., who gifted the university $6 million to support scholarships in the Waldron College of Health and Human Services and the College of Visual and Performing Arts, as well as programmatic and student support in the Department of Athletics.

About an hour before a large red crane lifted the steel beam through the July morning sky and placed it at its permanent spot within the structure, several members of the Radford family and the community gathered to sign their names and write positive messages on the beam, forever linking them to the many years of prosperity the building will provide to Radford’s students, faculty and staff.

“Right now, we see gaps between those girders, but dream with me,” Radford University President Bret Danilowicz, beaming with excitement, said at the ceremonial gathering. “Those spaces are going to be filled with classrooms, students, clinical research and laboratories. It’s going to be filled with multi-use environments, including makerspaces, simulations and virtual augmented reality laboratories. In essence, it’s a top-of-the-line, cutting-edge educational and research facility that reflects the educational environment that we have at Radford and want to continue and advance our institution to a new level.”

Among those in attendance were Radford University Board of Visitors members Robert A. Archer and Mark S. Lawrence and Virginia state Sen. Travis Hackworth and Del. Jason Ballard.


 “The new Center for Adaptative Innovation and Creativity will offer modern classrooms and other spaces to welcome and inspire students, faculty, and staff at Radford University for generations to come,” said Greg Peele, executive vice president responsible for Skanska’s North Carolina and Virginia building operations. “The topping-out signals a significant milestone as it puts this project one step closer to completion.”

An American flag and a Radford University flag adorned each side of the signature beam while a small pine tree sat in the middle, an important construction custom.

“As we raise this beam into the clear blue skies, we are setting the foundation for the future generations of Highlanders who will be educated in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment,” Nancy Artis said.

When opened, the new facility will include:

  •  A 500-seat performing arts theatre auditorium,
  • Fashion and interior design labs,
  • Health sciences clinical labs,
  • Painting and drawing studios,
  • Music and dance studios,
  • Maker and printer spaces,
  • Photography/darkroom space,
  • Virtual and augmented reality labs, and
  • Offices and other academic support spaces, including classrooms and collaboration rooms.

“The impact this building will have on the arts is paramount to providing a well-rounded education,” said Holly Cline, chair and professor of the Department of Design. “The single most important guiding principle was that the building has to be a catalyst for bringing people together to interact, think, perform, celebrate and learn.”

Jul 22, 2022
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761