Arts & Culture
Ateneo's Massive Art Complex and Creative Hub to Open Soon
The complex, which includes a museum and a performance theater, will open to the public in September.

Ateneo de Manila University is on an art spree this year. In February, the Ateneo Art Gallery and Poklong Anading launched “Shared Residence,” an ongoing experimental exhibit that allows Ateneo students and employees to take home commissioned artworks as they would books. Each borrower is taught how to handle a piece of value and encouraged to display it at home for two weeks.

An aerial view of Areté

Another project is the ongoing construction of Areté, a massive complex made up of an Arts Wing, a Learning Innovation Wing, and a Bridgeway. “It is an entire complex dedicated to innovation,” says Yael Buencamino-Borromeo, executive director of Areté.

Areté is a Greek word that has no equivalent in English. The closest definition, according to the people behind Ateneo’s massive undertaking, is excellence guided by purpose. According to Ateneo President Jett Villarin, SJ, “this can be achieved through interlocking and interplay of the disciplines and their constant enrichment by culture and the arts.”


The building, located along Katipunan Avenue and within the Ateneo campus, is being built by WV Coscolluela, the same firm behind the World Trade Center and the 45-story Robinsons Equitable Tower. One of the key architectural details of Areté is the Bridgeway, a visual symbol for what Buencamino-Borromeo calls "the connection between art and innovation."

The Hall

Areté will have a theater hall that will seat 900 people, another theater for an audience of 250 called the Black Box, and performing art studios that can be used as rehearsal spaces or for small performances. From the ground floor of Rizal Library, the Ateneo Art Gallery will be relocated to a bigger space in Areté. It will also have an activity hub called The Sandboxes, where students and teachers from various disciplines—not just from the Ateneo but other schools, too—can exchange ideas for collaborative work. Ateneo has also partnered with Le Cordon Bleu, one of the biggest culinary schools in the world, to launch a local institute that offers programs in hospitality management.


According to Buencamino-Borromeo, Ateneo President Jett Villarin, SJ pushed for Areté to be "a central space for stimulating creative, adaptive, and multi-dimensional thinking for generating new ideas, products, and services. He envisioned a hub where the spirit of creativity and innovation is nurtured and cultivated, enabling Ateneans to multiply their talents, broaden their horizons, and create new wealth and insight from within and outside their chosen fields." It is also a space where artists and students can interact with academics for an informed perspective of their work. “You can’t just look at things with one lens,” she says.

Areté will be open to the public in September 2017.

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Kwyn Kenaz Aquino
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