Ateneo's New Building Arete Combines Imagination and Innovation

Here's your first look at this awe-inspiring building.
IMAGE Arete's official Facebook page

When it comes to the arts and humanities, Ateneo de Manila University in Katipunan, Quezon City has a rich tradition that dates back to 1868 when then Ateneo Municipal de Manila began to excel at educating in the English language. Over the years, more degree programs were added and now, the university boasts the School of Humanities which offers courses in creative writing, theater arts, and modern languages. It also has the first museum of Philippine modern art, the Ateneo Art Gallery, which was established in 1960, and several theater groups Tanghalang Ateneo, Blue Repertory, and Entablado at the college level; Dulaang Sibol in the high-school department; and Ateneo Children's Theater for grade-school students.

With this history, it doesn't come as a surprise that the university is now gearing towards the expansion of its creative vision through the opening of Ateneo's newest building Arete. "We now finally have a home for these arts," says Yael Buencamino, Executive Director. And "Arete," a Greek word that roughly translates to excellence and virtue, couldn't be more apt for this undertaking.


Games and Politics exhibit runs until October 21

Eduardo J. Aboitiz Sandbox Zone

Its construction commenced in December 2015 and the four-floor and two-part structure is slowly taking shape starting with the Learning Innovation Wing. It houses the recently opened Sandbox Zone on the third floor where students and partners can work on various projects, such as the ongoing Games and Politics interactive exhibition by the Goethe-Institut and German cultural institution ZKM | Center for Art and Media.

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Painting Room

Unique and quirky tables by Resurrection Furniture in the common areas

The second floor features a couple of dance studios with sprung floors, a painting room equipped with fixtures that mimic artificial sunlight, laboratories, and non-traditional classrooms that have movable tables and chairs ideal for collaboration and brainstorming. The Innovation Wing also has the Ateneo Le Cordon Bleu Institute on the ground floor, which will serve students of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business' newest degree program Restaurant Entrepreneurship.


Ateneo Cordon Bleu Institute

By October, the Ateneo Art Gallery, which is currently housed at the Old Rizal Library Special Collections Building, is expected to move to the Arts Wing of Arete. Its debut exhibit would be the much-awaited Ateneo Art Awards, an annual recognition given to Filipino visual artists below the age of 36 for outstanding work in an exhibition shown in a span of a year. It will have three galleries on the upper ground floor for the permanent collections, and three more galleries on the third floor for continuing art exhibitions and the Prints and Drawings Collection.


Artist rendering of proscenium theater

Artist rendering of black box theater

The Arete comes complete with its 900-seater theater, 250-seater black box theater, an outdoor amphitheater, art studios, and more contemporary classrooms will finally have its grand opening in February 2018. Its most important fixture is the bridgeway that not only connects the Arts Wing to the Innovation Wing, but also "really defines the building," according to Buencamino.



"We're hoping that it goes beyond metaphor and actually allows that crossover in both fields. We imagine the collaboration between the artists and the academics to go beyond mere utilitarian. We really want them to work together and reimagine things, I think that's the goal. The idea is to bring together from different disciplines in this building to hopefully encourage innovation. The idea of having the Arts Wing here is for them to collaborate with the academics, scientists, social scientists, historians to hopefully reimagine issues of today," she explains



Classrooms have trapezoid tables which you can mix and match

Another exciting program that really imbibes Arete's idea of collaboration is the soon-to-open Master's degree in Design Innovation, which will be implemented in partnership with Queen Mary University of London. The one-year-and-a-half course is a combination of electronics, hardware, computer programming, visual arts, design, and other media platforms. Students get to spend three terms in Ateneo and a term in London.

"The importance of the arts, I feel, lies in that the artists allow us to see things in a different way. They are able to change our perceptions by presenting us things that we are used to in a different light. Hopefully, this will shake us out of our complacency. It's not only with issues. It's also being able to help us visualize ideas, emotions. It's really helping us see things differently," Buencamino adds.


With such state-of-the-art and all-inclusive facilities, Arete is poised to be one of the country's best venues for the continued evolution and expansion of the local arts scene.

Arete is to the left of Gate 3 and across Ricardo and Dr. Rosita Leong Hall at Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. For more information, follow Arete on Facebook.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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