Marshall University's plans to expand its visual arts center in downtown Huntington are moving forward.
The massive project, a renovation of part of the former Stone & Thomas building on Third Avenue, across from Pullman Square, is on track to be completed by June 2014, in time for the academic year.
Ron May, director of facilities planning and management for Marshall, said most of the project has been bringing the 111-year-old department store up to modern standards to meet fire and safety regulations.
"That's the biggest thing," he said. "There's a lot of building to do just to get the building up to code."
That's one of the pitfalls encountered when renovating older buildings, but administrators opted for this space in part because it is so old - it offers a high level of visibility in Huntington and is a grand old structure.
The building sits in a prime spot in downtown Huntington and is meant to drive foot traffic to downtown Huntington and meld the relationship between the city and the university. (The city pitched in about $400,000 toward the renovations with that in mind.)
It's a historic seven-story structure - technically a high-rise, May said.
That means workers have had to install drywall between each story - another requirement of modern fire codes.
To keep the ceilings as high as possible - a request from the visual arts department - workers are leaving the pipes and wires exposed overhead, masking them only with grey paint.
"We want to build it to their specifications," May said.