Main Campus Center
Main Campus Center.
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Main Campus Center 7th floor.
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Main Campus Center Studio. Photo: Mark Bocek.
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Main Campus Center Studio.
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Main Campus Center Print Shop.
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Art happens downtown, and so does Cornish since it opened the Main Campus Center (MCC) in the Denny Triangle-South Lake Union section of Seattle. As its name implies, the MCC is the centerpiece for a group of eight buildings in the neighborhood that now make up the Cornish Main Campus.
The MCC is a large structure containing seven floors in all. It houses the offices of the departments of Theater, Performance Production, Art, Design, and Film. All these departments hold classes in the building while making use of the other structures in the Main Campus. The MCC, the former Volker Building, is on the National Register of Historic Places as a fine example of art deco architecture in 1928. Classic on the outside and thoroughly modern on the inside, the MCC’s large windows look out on Seattle’s cityscape, including the Space Needle in nearby Seattle Center.
The Cornish Main Gallery is on the 1st Floor, along with Theater Department studios and the sculpture studio.
The 2nd floor entry opens into Nellie’s Café, an important gathering spot for students and faculty. Also on the second floor are the Cornish Library and additional theater studios. The beautiful 3rd floor entry on Lenora Street provides ample proof as to why the MCC is on the register of historic places. It doubles as the Alumni Gallery, and works are hung here throughout the year.
Studio Floors 4-6
The main studios of the visually oriented departments of Art, Design, Film, and Performance Production are on floors 4, 5, and 6 of the MCC. Light, airy and spacious, the studios are ideal for the visual arts. Also on these floors are the print shop, the photographic studio, and the costume shop.
The Main Campus Center contains many of Cornish's administrative offices, these centered on its 3rd and 7th floors. On the 3rd floor are the offices of Admission, Registration, Financial Aid, Student Accounts, and Security. The top floor of the MCC contains the Office of the President and the offices of the Provost, Advancement, Communications, Finance, Operations, and Human Resources. Also on the 7th floor is the President’s Gallery and two large meeting rooms with sweeping views of the city.
The Main Campus and the MCC are in the middle of a quickly changing neighborhood that is the scene of the development of an enormous Amazon.com campus and multiple construction projects for other high-tech and medical research companies. Until the turn of this century, the Denny Triangle section was zoned commercial and was home to a number of textile- and furniture-oriented companies. Among these was the William Volker Company.
“The William Volker Company was a Kansas City-based manufacturer and wholesaler of furniture and window shades,” states the nominating document for the National Register of Historical Places. “The company occupied this building until the late 1970s.” After that time, it continued to be used as a furniture showroom and accompanying warehousing. The Volker building was designed by prominent Seattle architects and constructed in 1928. The nomination was accepted, and the building was added to the national registry.
“The William Volker Building is significant as a well-preserved and early example of Art Deco design in the City of Seattle,” the document of 1983 continues. “The structure was designed by the prominent architect Henry Bittman and his associate Harold Adams. In this project, the architectural team was able to use both its considerable skills in engineering and its talent in architectural design. They produced a strong utilitarian building that is graced with prominent Art Deco details.”
Cornish purchased the building in the early 2000s as the plan to move the main campus downtown from Capitol Hill took shape. The Volke Building, since most of it was open warehouse space, was ideal to convert for the College’s use as a thoroughly modern MCC while keeping its Art Deco character intact.