Steel focus of recent work on cultural center

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Construction crews work at the site of the future Thyen-Clark Cultural Center in Jasper on Tuesday. The building is on track to be complete by late 2020.


JASPER — The last several weeks of work on the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center can be summed up in one word: Steel.

While steel construction isn’t the only work that’s been done on the building that will bring the Jasper Community Arts Center — which will house the Jasper Community Arts Commission and the Jasper Public Library on the corner of Third Avenue and Mill Street — it has been a focus. As Project Manager Matt Krempp of Krempp Lumber said, “Nothing can happen without steel.” Crews started the steel work on the arts wing of the building, which sits along Mill Street. That has been completed, and steel crews are now finishing the steel frame for the atrium — which faces the Jasper Train Depot — and the library wing that faces the Patoka River.

“It seemed like [work] kind of drug in the center, but the steel work is very detailed,” he said.

Coming up, crews will pour the concrete floor in the atrium space, and on Tuesday, the crew prepared to pour the concrete in the arts offices on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the arts wing serves as a preview of what’s to come as crews move through the project. As passersby drive north on Mill Street, the arts wing is the black section of the building. Not to worry, though. Krempp promised that the pitch black look currently on the exterior walls is not the final product. The black material is a vapor barrier that will be covered first by limestone brick, then by brick veneer. Other parts of the building will have wood veneer on the exterior.

“I think it’s going to be really sharp when it comes together,” Krempp said.

This room will be used as a multi-purpose space for small performances.

Krempp said overall the construction process has gone smoothly, and the building is on track for substantial completed in late 2020. The rainy spring and summer did cause delays with earthwork at the start, Krempp said, but crews have made up for the delays. And with the arts wing under roof and enclosed, the weather is less of an issue. Even if it’s raining, crews can still make progress on the project indoors. So far, crews from Weyer Electric of Ferdinand and Huntingburg Machine Works have started installing the utility infrastructure on the arts side. The wood panel ceiling is also over the gallery spaces, offering a sneak peak of the finished product. The wood paneling and steel beams currently visible in the gallery space will be visible in the finished project as well, Krempp explained, although the steel will be painted dark brown.

As a Jasper native, Krempp said managing construction of the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center has been a point of pride, both for himself and his crews.

“It’s really going to be something special,” he said. “I think it’s going to shift the whole downtown area.”

Krempp isn’t the only one excited for the project to finish up. Library Director Christine Golden and Jasper Community Arts Director Kyle Rupert are also looking forward to moving into their new space. Rupert is especially excited about the black box room — a multipurpose room that will have black walls, ceilings and floors, making it a blank canvas for all sorts of events. Currently, the room is clearly a work in progress, with puddles from the recent rains collecting on the cement floor. When it’s complete, however, it will be a space for small concerts, presentations and performances of all sorts.

Off the construction site, Golden and Rupert are working with local furniture companies to find furnishings for the finished project. They’re also continuing discussions about the daily operations of the building once it’s up and running to make sure the two departments can operate with a united front.

“We’ve been pretty well on the same page, we continue to be,” Rupert said.

Still, both acknowledge that each department has unique needs, and they want to make sure those are met.

Although there is still much work to be done before the doors of the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center can officially open, Golden and Rupert are clearly excited about their new digs. As they walked through the construction site Tuesday afternoon, both were smiling and chatting about how they’ll be able to use the new spaces.

The wood beam ceiling will be exposed to the inside of the finished building.




More on