Facilities & Renovation

The School of the Arts (SOTA) has reinvented itself, growing from a small fine arts department into one of the fastest-growing, comprehensive art schools in the nation.

SOTA's flagship Albert Simons Center for the Arts was built in 1979 to serve no more than 800 students. Now, more than five times that number use the school's facilities – an indication of SOTA’s continued success in attracting talented and skilled students, faculty and staff. 

Rendering of renovated Simons Center for the Arts (subject to change), street view, brick exterior with large glass windowsSOTA has worked with Liollio Architecture and HGA Design Firm (Minneapolis) on renovation plans for the Simons Center. Learn about the time capsule discovered during construction. We look forward to unveiling a space that celebrates the arts through its architecture — with a bright and colorful ambiance that is inviting to students and visitors. Upon completion, our spaces will provide an even more elevated student and patron experience: 

  • grand entrance and expanded lobby, featuring more art exhibition space 
  • new seminar classrooms, as well as updated and enlarged classroom spaces
  • new two-story black box theatre; state-of-the-art costume shop, scene shop and theatre design studio; and updated dressing rooms
  • all new sculpture, printmaking and drawing studios; digital lab; and gallery/multipurpose room
  • new music practice rooms and revamped dressing room spaces
  • entire building will be outfitted with new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and updated technological systems

SOTA events previously presented inside the Simons Center (at the Recital Hall, Emmett Robinson Theatre, 316 lecture hall and Theatre 220) are taking place temporarily at other campus venues. In addition, our Department of Art & Architectural History and our Arts Management Program relocated to Harbor Walk West, overlooking the picturesque Charleston harbor. Our Department of Studio Art (main office) has moved across the street to the Lightsey Center, which also houses printmaking and drawing studios; the nearby sculpture studio is currently at 136 Saint Philip St. Some classrooms and studios for the Department of Theatre & Dance have temporarily relocated, as listed here.

In 2010, SOTA opened The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts, a 70,000-square-foot building designed by architects Stevens & Wilkinson. The first floor of the building houses the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, the Hill Student Exhibition Gallery, a catering kitchen and a state-of-the-art conference room/seminar classroom. The Department of Music is housed on the second floor, which features rehearsal and performance space for ensembles. The Department of Theatre and Dance is on the third floor, with movement and dance studios. The fourth floor includes painting studios for faculty and students, and the fifth floor contains a photography suite. The Cato Center is located at 161 Calhoun St.

The Caroline and Albert Simons, Jr. Center for Historic Preservation is housed at the Hugh P. Cameron House at 12 Bull St. Built c.1851, the graceful antebellum mansion houses classrooms, design studios, exhibit space and faculty and program offices for our program of Historic Preservation and Community Planning.

The Chapel Theatre is an intimate, 106-seat, proscenium-style space converted from a former church sanctuary, located at 172 Calhoun St.

The Barnet Courtyard is an outdoor space that features a covered performance area, sculpture garden, benches and a large lawn.