While taking a walk through the new Paul J. Schupf Art Center in Waterville, Maine, big design elements like a glass skyway might catch your eye.
Then there are the small touches like the lighting inside brand new movie theaters and an espresso machine emblazoned with about as much crimson paint as a Ferrari.
There are also enormous windows everywhere, allowing people both inside and outside the structure to see in, through and around it.
“That is absolutely on purpose, the transparency is a major part of the design,” said David Greene, president of Colby College.
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During a Friday interview with NECN and NBC10 Boston, Greene explained that the college, which is adding the center to its portfolio of new downtown buildings, wanted to make sure the $18 million building would be a place that welcomed people and was woven into a city undergoing a transformation.
“It really invites the community in and lets them see what’s going on inside,” Shannon Haines, President and CEO of WatervilleCreates!, a non-profit arts group that will now be headquartered in the center.
It will also house movie theaters, a pottery studio and art galleries, including an extension of the Colby Museum of Art.
There is also The Bixby Chocolate Café, which sits near one of three ground floor entrances and serves everything from the aforementioned coffee to liquid chocolate ganache you can drink.
“It’s our first café initiative,” said Kate McAleer, owner and founder of Bixby Chocolate, which has its chocolate factory in Rockland.
The center is also a glass and steel symbol of downtown Waterville’s revitalization, with $200 million of recent investment from public and private sources with almost $100 million of that coming from Colby College.
The college views this effort as returning a Depression-era favor.
In the late 1920s, the college was facing financial trouble and preparing to leave downtown Waterville. Then, the City of Waterville stepped in by purchasing land nearby and deeding it to the college so it would stay.
However, this removed its campus from the heart of the city.
“This is really starting to knit that back together again right now,” said Greene of the arts center, adding that he and others on the team behind the building hope that its theaters, galleries and studios form an attraction the community will seek out and use.
“This is going to be the real meeting space, a real living room for the city,” he noted.
On Friday, the college was hosting one last preview event at the center before an expected public opening on Saturday.