sealPurdue News

October 11, 1996

BCC architectural drawings will be presented at homecoming

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University's Black Cultural Center will unveil the architectural renderings for its new $3 million facility during a homecoming tailgate party on Saturday (10/19).

The tailgate will begin at 11 a.m. in a tent on the parking lot just north of the center, 315 University St. The unveiling ceremony will begin at 1:15 p.m. Speakers will be Renee A. Thomas, director of the Black Cultural Center; Walter S. Blackburn, owner of Blackburn Architects of Indianapolis, which is designing the new center; Purdue President Steven C. Beering; and Marcus Clarke, a Ford Motor Co. executive, Dearborn, Mich., and chairman of the BCC Fund-Raising Advisory Committee.

Clarke, who helped found the Purdue Black Alumni Organization in conjunction with the BCC's 10th anniversary in 1980, said this homecoming will be especially meaningful for him.

"This new center reaffirms Purdue's dedication to diversity," said Clarke, who graduated in 1957 with a degree in chemical engineering. Today, he manages Ford's effort to improve work force development and collegiate education.

"We have to look to the future," Clarke said. "Most companies are more global, servicing markets all over the world that comprise various cultures, backgrounds, ethnicity and religions. The demographics in this country also are changing. So it is critical for Purdue to take leadership to make sure its graduates can lead in the next century and clearly understand and value diversity.

"The Black Cultural Center is a keystone in that effort."

Thomas said the new facility will incorporate elements of traditional African architecture.

"The new center will consist of simple, three-dimensional forms; geometric patterns; and naturally textured materials," she said. "It will draw upon traditional African design elements to create an open, casual layout and a unique exterior."

In January, Beering announced a $1 million challenge grant in university private gift funds for the project. The university also is providing $150,000 in fund-raising expenses as well as the land for the new facility, which will be built on the northwest corner of Third and Russell streets near the campus.

At nearly 10,000 square feet, the building will be almost twice the size of the current facility. The drawings will be put on display in three campus locations: next to the Stripe Shop on the ground floor of Purdue Memorial Union, by the Stewart Center ticket office, and at the Black Cultural Center.

Features of the new facility include a library that gives more electronic access to students, a computer laboratory, increased storage and rehearsal space for the BCC's four performing arts ensembles, expanded art and gallery space, and office space for student organizations such as the Purdue chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Black Greek Council. The center also will house historical information about African-American culture, which can be used by students, faculty and staff to deepen their understanding of diverse cultures.

The Black Cultural Center serves about 35,000 people each year through its performing arts ensembles, speaker series, tours and other programs.

The Fund-Raising Advisory Committee met for the first time in March, and since then members have received training on gift solicitation and have begun calling on major prospective donors.

In addition to the unveiling and tailgate party, several other activities are planned for members of the Purdue Black Alumni Association during homecoming weekend. They include a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at the Black Cultural Center; a comedy fest featuring Mike Bonner at University Inn at 10 p.m. Friday; the association's annual business meeting at 9:30 a.m. at the center on Saturday, Oct. 19; and a homecoming party and dance at University Inn on Saturday night.


Sources: Renee Thomas, (765) 494-3092; e-mail,

Marcus Clarke, (313) 322-9231; home, (313) 331-1748; e-mail,

Writer: Ellen Rantz, (765) 494-2073; home, (765) 497-0345; e-mail,

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