Overcash Building dedicated

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By: Andrew Stark

On Thursday, May 4, Central Piedmont Community College dedicated the new Christa and Reece A. Overcash Academic and Performing Arts Center. Formerly known as the Academic and performing Arts Center, or APAC, it will now be known as the Overcash Building.

Christa Overcash continues the legacy she and her late husband, Reese began over 25 years ago. In 1999, Ms. Overcash made a contribution which named the Christa A. Overcash Nursing Program. In 2000, she was recognized as the “North Carolina Benefactor of the Year” by the Community College Council for Resource Development. In 2005, she joined the Board of Directors of the CPCC Foundation.

Jeffery Friar, executive director of Facilities Management said the new Overcash building, formerly known as the Academic and Performing Arts Center, is the “jewel in the crown,” but the building still has to overcome some existing problems.

“Everything is beautiful, just gorgeous,” Friar said of the Overcash building. “It is the biggest single building we have.” Thirteen buildings were torn down in order to create the new building.

Overcash is “very environmentally focused,” with a lot of green technologies such as low voltage lighting controls and “day lighting” that illuminates the offices by making use of the natural light, Friar said.

Halton Theatre
Friar also described all of the bonuses associated with Overcash. There is a new Student Life Center, the theatre, art galleries, new offices, new art rooms and two rehearsal stages.

The new Halton Theatre, named for Dale F. Halton, former owner of PepsiCo, is one of the most outstanding acoustical spaces in the state said Kim Renz, executive director of the Halton Theatre. Renz said the theatre is a great success artistically.

The theatre was carefully designed, according to Renz. The builders took into account the shape, materials, thickness of the walls, and installed a world-class sound system.

By using plaster instead of sheet rock the walls were thicker and more acoustically fit than most theatres. Halton is a trapezoid; not rectangular, for better sound quality. “The theatre is special,” Renz said.

Problems with the Overcash Building
Friar explained that there are some problems with Overcash as with any other building. “We needed to learn things about the building. All buildings have their own personality,” Friar said.

The theatre has the infrastructure that is needed to expand in the future. The theatre’s infrastructure is ready, but the budget won’t allow for additions, such as an orchestra pit, until later. Renz said they are prioritizing when and how these changes will be added.

One problem Renz discussed was the need for the guts of theatre. The theatre is up and running, but some issues with the equipment still remain. There is only one piano for example, and there is a need for more equipment and for updated musical instruments. Some of the costumes and wardrobe should also be updated, according to Renz.

Another problem was getting the heating and air conditioning just right. With only one thermostat on stage, it is sometimes hard to keep the audience at a comfortable temperature with the production lights on, and in addition, all of the classrooms need to be kept at a comfortable temperature, Friar said.

Offices in Overcash
Renz said the building itself is beautiful, but some things could be set up better. It is a little hard to get around Renz said. “Folks need to know where things are.”

Renz is very pleased with the new offices and the building itself. “We should be very proud of it.”

The Student Life and Service Learning Center are not located at the center of campus anymore and it is harder for students to find them, said Dena Shonts, Service Learning Center coordinator.

The new offices offer a great new space to work in and afford much more room said Mark Helms, associate dean of Student Life and Service Learning.

“We’re adjusting to a new location,” Helms said. Helms said the offices are a little off the beaten path and it is harder for students to find them, but overall it is a good change for them.

Overcash Building’s Design
“The building creates a marker for CPCC’s sprawling campus, a gateway to the Elizabeth neighborhood, a bold face turned to uptown and an anchor amid heavily traveled streets,” Richard Maschal wrote in a Nov. 11, 2005, Charlotte Observer article.

“That theatre is a gem,” wrote Maschal. Maschal wrote of how Overcash welcomes visitors. The Overcash building is the first building in Charlotte with “monumental columns since the 1920’s and the first full-blown classical building since the 30’s.”

Mashcal described the building as “a beautiful palette of red brick with limestone trim.”

CPCC is a great two-year school according to Maschal, but it should not try to emulate this classical architecture. CPCC started with old-style buildings and then built this classical style building. Maschal wrote that this bothers him and CPCC should stick more to a theme.

The building’s “jacket gives no sense of what’s inside,” Maschal wrote. “The building doesn’t always express classical values such as balance and proportion.” Bojangles

It is “a great building, and a great location,” said Chris Benson, manager of Bojangles.

The restaurant has changed its menu in order to better meet the students’ needs. It is “the largest and most extensive menu in the company,” said Benson. This is part of the reason that the prices are low and tight-budget students can eat cheaply.

Benson said that the college is doing a good job in keeping the campus clean and free of litter. “If you give them a place to throw trash away, people generally will,” Benson said.

Friar also speaks highly of the restaurant. “It affords students a cheaper alternative.” Friar and his staff have designed things that help alleviate the problem of having a restaurant in the same building with classrooms. The air has been vented so the smell won’t go to the other areas of the building.

Friar said they are working closely with the restaurant. Bojangles closes two hours early on performance nights so guests won’t smell the food and can concentrate on the performance they came to see.

Maschal wrote in his article of how the old Bojangles sign on Elizabeth Avenue was an eye sore. “Allowing that is a desecration,” Maschal stated.

The sign has since been replaced. Friar said the old sign was “pretty big, lots of yellows and reds. We came up with something a little more conservative.” The new sign is smaller and fits in better with the theme of the building, Friar said.

“We have worked through a lot,” Friar said. “The building speaks for itself. It is one of a kind, just magnificent.”