In January 1875, a provisional contract for the erection of the new School of Art was approved and, in the following months, Alexander Fisher advised the Building Committee about the requirements for the building and the drawing up of instructions to architects. On 27 July, John G. Gibbins’ design was selected from ten proposals that had been received following advertisement. By early January 1876 the plans for the complete building were passed,having been drawn up in line with the guidelines that the that the Department of Science and Art had issued in 1859.
Gibbins, a local professional architect, was formally appointed, tenders for the building were put and won by a Mr Lockyer at a cost of £6,150, and the building erected through the generosity of a Captain Hill who lent £5000 at 4.5%. The importance of this loan should not be underestimated since the maximum that the Department of Art and Science in London would contribute to towards the project was £500, providing that qualified staff delivered the courses. The new Brighton School of Science and Art was built in a modern Romanesque style, with the façade in brick with Bath stone coping and cornices. The columns flanking the main entrance were in polished red granite, those in the windows in red Mansfield stone, with the façade enriched by a series of terracotta panels and lunettes that had been designed by the Art Master Alexander Fisher, and executed by Messrs Johnson at the nearby Ditchling Pottery Workshop. The two main terracotta panelscan be viewed in the present day entrance foyer of the Faculty of Arts and Architecture in Grand Parade, Brighton. Their main subject matter symbolically represented the activities of the new School, as was recounted in the Brighton Herald of 3 February, 1877:
The northern wing has a panel, with figures in alti relievi, symbolical of the Arts. Thus pottery is represented by a boy carrying an earthen vessel; Architecture, by another constructing a toy-house, Sculpture, by a sculptor at work on a bust; Geometry by a fourth figure examining a scroll; Building Construction, by a youth with a saw and a plank; Painting, by an artist at his easel, and so on…It says much for the artistic genius of Mr Alexander Fisher, the Head Master, who furnished designs for the decorations, that appropriate emblems have been given to each of the various figures.
Illustration published in The Builder, October 21st 1876.