Baltimore County

Stevenson University showcases arts programs in new design building

Jimmy Gribbin can't decide — New York or Los Angeles? This spring, when he graduates from Stevenson University with a bachelor's degree in film/video, he's heading to one of those magnet cities.

Gribbin wants to be a film director. It's a long shot, he knows, but he is willing to start small, hoping to get hired on a film crew in whatever capacity.


"The program here teaches you all aspects of film and video. I learned on the most current equipment," said the 28-year-old College Park native. "I'm ready to put myself out there."

On a frigid January afternoon, wintry sunlight bounced off the two-story glass entry of Stevenson University's School of Design, 11200 Gundry Lane, Owings Mills.


The design school, established in 2009, had been holding classes in buildings on the university's Greenspring campus. For the first time in the fall 2013 semester, the School of Design had its very own building.

From the soaring lobby to the intimate broadcast studio, from the 12 individual digital editing rooms to the Frank Garrity Design Studio, a vast open work space, much thought and attention to detail has gone into the building.

Credit goes to Amanda Gingery Hostalka, professor and department chairwoman of art and visual communication design, and Christopher Llewellyn Reed, professor and chairman of the department of film/video. The two spent a year collaborating on the design, finding a way to meld the needs of each department into a cohesive whole.

The School of Design building dates to 2011 when Stevenson University bought the former Shire Pharmaceuticals property for $10.5 million. Stevenson is an independent, four-year institution that offers undergraduate and master's degrees. Roughly 450 of its 4,500-students are design school majors.

Located within a stone's throw of the university's Owings Mills campus, the 28-acre property had two buildings; an 18,000-square-foot administrative building and an adjacent 150,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

The administrative building became the School of Design at a cost of $1 million. Plans are underway to convert the manufacturing plant into the School of the Sciences, which currently holds classes at the Greenspring campus, with some common classroom spaces for the School of Design. A fall 2015 opening is anticipated.

The School of Design is two-stories high but the second floor is currently used for storage only. On the first floor, two wings lead off the lobby. One wing is the domain of the film/video department; the other, the art and visual communications and design department and faculty offices.

"We wanted a lot of natural light in the open studios, where the students can work collaboratively," Hostalka said.


"We didn't [want natural light]. But we did want high ceilings, at least 15 feet," said Reed, to accommodate the broadcast studio, sound stage and equipment for both.

Stevenson University prides itself on preparing its students for the work-world. The School of Design is no exception. In 2011, Reed said, his department of film/video redesigned its photography curriculum.

The building has a room devoted to film editing, with all the equipment that entails. "We want students to learn the old technology," Reed said. "But the focus now is on digital, and we have two state-of-the-art digital photography labs."

Likewise, the art and visual communications and design space is filled with state-of-the-art equipment, from MAC computers with Adobe, Photoshop and Illustrator software, among others, to three-dimensional printers.

"We use equipment the students would use in their jobs. We want them to become familiar with it," Hostalka said.

In the Garrity Design Studio, Kate Kotoski pulled up on her computer the website she'd made for the photography club, of which she is president. The website has drop-downs and connects to a Facebook page, so viewers may leave comments.


"I've been doing art forever. But you can't make a living as an artist so I am translating that into a practical career," said Kotoski, 21, an Ocean City native and Stevenson University junior who is aiming for a career in graphic design.

Kotoski much prefers the new School of Design building to the previous arrangement.

"Before, we had a couple of classrooms and a small art wing," she said. "Here, we can all work together."

Sitting in his office, Keith Kutch, dean of the School of Design, says that work on the building isn't finished. The school is expanding its programs, and the building will accommodate future and existing programs under one roof.

Besides the existing business communications and fashion design majors, the school has received approval to start a major in interior design. An industrial design major is in the works.

"We expect to grow," Kutch said.