The school broke ground on the 130,000-square-foot project in January 2010 and finished it in August. It's an addition to the old South High School, which was built in 1931 and features art deco details on the exterior and lobby.
The project required demolishing an old gym, pool and diving pool.
The new center will house 17 programs, ranging from graphic design to dance, that were previously offered across SLCC's 13 locations, some in "subpar" facilities, said Richard Scott, dean of arts, communication and new media.
"I think it's going to grow and grow as people see it and they see what can happen," he said.
To celebrate the opening, SLCC will host author and MacArthur genius award recipient Bill Strickland, a Pittsburgh native from a low-income family who credits ceramics with helping him get through high school. He created an after-school arts program for students that offers instruction in ceramics, photography, digital imaging and design art.
Strickland will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Grand Theatre. SLCC will also host an art show Thursday and Friday, as well as a documentary film screening Friday. About 340 high school students will participate in workshops based on the programs offered at the center Friday morning, and an open house will be held at the space from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.