President Fergusson, architect Cesar Pelli and Frances Lehman Loeb ’28 wielded Matthew Vassar’s spade to break ground for the Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center, nearly ten years to the day from when the facility was conceived, as President Fergusson noted in her convocation address a few days earlier.

Cesar Pelli’s lecture to the year’s last Art 105-106 class, “Pelli on Pelli,” preceded the groundbreaking ceremony.  “This is not a normal art gallery,” Pelli explained.  “It is primarily a teaching experience….  Natural light is important in a teaching collection.  It is more real for studying ancient pieces made before electric light.”  As to the 20-foot square galleries, they were, Pelli said, “the size of the galleries at the Frick.” 

Pelli’s description was echoed by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith in her review nearly three years later of both the new building and an exhibit, The Golden Age of Florentine Drawing.   “Inside the Loeb Art Center,” Smith wrote, “the high ceilings of the central hallway and main galleries have cathedral-like clerestories that bathe nearly 500 artworks, from Chinese ceramics and Egyptian sculptures to paintings by Joan Miró, Jackson Pollock, Arthur Dove and Mark Rothko, in soft natural light.”     The Miscellany News, The New York Times