Construction starts on U.'s arts-in-education complex

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The University of Utah broke ground Tuesday on a $24-million facility that will serve as an interdisciplinary hub for integrating the arts into elementary and secondary education through research, training, practice and advocacy.

Half the project's cost is covered by a gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and the building will be named the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex in honor of the Salt Lake City philanthropist, arts advocate and widow of Utah biotech entrepreneur James LeVoy Sorenson.

"The arts are an essential part of a well-rounded, high-quality education and we are thrilled that the University of Utah has acknowledged this and dedicated its resources to establishing this new complex," said Sorenson, a former elementary school teacher who founded Art Works for Kids, in a prepared statement. "This will be a place where various organizations, professors, teachers and children can come to celebrate the crucial role the arts play in providing children with the best education."

The 85,000-square-foot building, designed by the firms EDA Architects and HGA Architects, will go up on the south end of campus, framing a new quad with Milton Bennion Hall and the David Eccles School of Business to the west. The Sorenson gift is the largest ever to the U. in support of arts and education, according to David Pershing, the U.'s senior vice president for academic affairs and acting president.

"This complex embodies the unique vision and legacy that Beverley Sorenson has in bringing high-quality arts instruction into the lives of all Utah children and will have a profound impact on their learning in all subjects," Pershing said in a statement.