• Lillie Burke

Coming soon: The 3-D Building will be Belmont’s home for ‘Data, Design and Discovery&#82

Belmont is growing yet again, and this time, the construction will be lawn-side between the Johnson and Baskin Centers.

Plans for a new six-story building — called the 3-D Building in the spirit of “Data, Design and Discovery” — outline what will serve as the new home of the university admissions department, the Belmont Store and the recently announced Belmont Data Collaborative. It will also be home to student entrepreneurship programs and classes within the Massey College of Business.

“My hope is for this building to be a hub of innovation and collaboration for every member of our campus community,” wrote Belmont President Greg Jones in an email.

The first floor of the building will serve as the university’s new welcome center, giving prospective students and families the ability to stop by the Belmont Store or visit other admission services before or after their campus tour.

“Projected enrollment growth over the next decade or so would lead us to believe that we need to have a larger space for our presentations with our guests, and this presents an opportunity to bring a lot of different admissions officers together under one space where right now we’re kind of scattered,” said Chris Gage, associate provost and dean of enrollment services.

Jones agreed with the need for a new front door to Belmont’s campus.

“A new welcome center on the ground floor of the 3-D Building enables an easier ‘discovery’ process for these families and provides the opportunity for us to demonstrate even better hospitality to our guests,” wrote Jones.

The middle floors of the 3-D Building will likely house classrooms, but the top floors will be dedicated to the Belmont Data Collaborative.

The BDC was created to educate students about the importance of data and show them how they can use it in their chosen field.

The program will also help community partners around Nashville by collecting information and crafting solutions to problems.

New hire Dr. Charlie Apigian, executive director of the BDC, didn’t know about the new building when he started at Belmont at the end of the summer, but said he was brought into meetings about it on his second day at the university.

“I came here because of the opportunity, not because of a building,” he said. “But the building was kind of a nice add-on there.”

Apigian said he has an internal and external vision for the collaborative, and the new building will help in bringing those to life.

“Internally, it’s about helping students get the data skills that they need, externally it’s about continuing to partner with out local government, private industry, nonprofits and any other entity where the use of data can be used in a good way and then bring those partnerships to Belmont,” Apigian said.

“I want an environment where students, the community, where faculty can get together and do things.”

Pending Metro Planning Department approval, construction will likely begin in early 2022, but a projected end date has not been announced.

The Nashville-based architecture firm Earl Swensson Associates, which designed a number of Belmont buildings — most recently the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts — will oversee construction.

“We are so honored to have the opportunity to be a part of another exciting project at Belmont,” architect David Minnigan wrote in an email. “The energy and vision that Dr. Jones is bringing to campus is so exciting. It really is like a relay race — Dr. Fisher handed the baton to Dr. Jones, and he is running fast!”

The location was chosen for a number of reasons, with one of the biggest being that the area is already prepared for construction. Due to the already-existing Johnson and Baskin parking garages, no excavation will be required.

So students won’t need to expect the daily explosions associated with current construction on campus.

“Like every project that has been built, it will cause some disruption — dust, noise, rerouting of sidewalks,” Minnigan wrote.

“But the good news is that there will be no blasting or big excavation on this one.”

PHOTO: A proposed rendering of the 3-D Building, which will be located between the Johnson and Baskin Centers. Courtesy of the Belmont Office of Communications.

This article was written by Sarah Maninger. Contributory reporting by Allynne Miller.

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