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Cedar City • The architectural design of a major new art museum planned for the campus of Southern Utah University features sharp edges, sloping triangles, sheer walls with soaring windows and plenty of communal and gallery space.

The design, unveiled on March 29, is a collaborative effort between GSBS Architects of Salt Lake City and Cooper Joseph Studio of New York City.

Wendy Evans Joseph, an architect with the New York firm and designer of the Holocaust Memorial at the I.J. & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City, said the Southern Utah Museum of Art will incorporate exhibits with a sense of community through use of overlapping public spaces.

She said a sense of community is important in the design because people visit museums for a variety of reasons, "even to get out the rain," she said.

The museum will offer balconies for such intimate experiences as poetry readings as well as a cafe, a store and classrooms. Windows in the main and second story galleries will face east, with views of the mountains and red hills for which Cedar City is known.

Joseph said the design will emphasize the display of art that in some museums is just "hidden away."

"This is about the art and not the artist," said Joseph.

In an interview, SUU president Michael T. Benson said the idea for the museum came about in 2007 during negotiations with famed artist Jim Jones, who is known for his paintings of the Southwest, including Grand Canyon and Zion national parks.

Benson said before Jones' death in December, the artist agreed to donate 14 paintings to the museum in addition to two he had already donated. The museum's main gallery will be named after him.

Benson said the museum will raise the city's cultural profile and serve as a gateway to southwestern Utah for visitors traveling to Springdale and St. George.

The museum's expected cost of about $12.5 million will be covered by private donations. Benson said about half the amount has been raised. He is hoping ground can be broken on the structure in the fall and that the museum will be completed by 2012.

Reece Summers, director of the museum, said the facility will be invaluable in incorporating SUU's museum quality items into a central location. Those items are now on display at different locations around the campus, including the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery.

Students will play a role in managing and staffing the museum. They're also helping pay for it.

SUU student body president Cody Alderson said students will be charged a fee of $15 per semester to help cover the cost of the museum. He said the fees are expected to raise "just north of a million dollars."

Alderson said the museum will provide a broader, more "holistic" education for all SUU students. "[Art] can definitely bring a different perspective to the world," he said.

About the Southern Utah Museum of Art

Where • Campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City.

Architects • GSBS Architects, Salt Lake City; Cooper Joseph Studio, New York City.

Cost • About $12.5 million from private donations and student fees.

Size • More than 26,000 square feet total on two stories.

Exhibits • In addition to an anchor exhibit of paintings by Jim Jones, it will house a variety of ceramics, sculptures and drawings belonging to SUU. Traveling and invitational exhibits are also planned.