Located in Little Italy, the School of Photographic Arts (SPAO), unveils its sleek new home. The grand opening will take place on Friday on Pamilla Street and toasts will be made to Jonathan Hobin, the world renowned photographer who is an Ottawa native. He is also the school’s creative director and executive. He returned home two years ago to help SPAO founder and head instructor, Michael Tardioli, rebuild the operation of the school he started in 2005.

After years of raising funds this is a big moment for SPAO. The once old and rundown warehouse that is the new home to the school has been given a major makeover. It’s been transformed into a multi-purpose school/arts centre designed by a team led by Hobin’s architect father, Barry Hobin, featuring a main-floor gallery and event space facing the street, a versatile classroom in the middle, large handicapped-accessible washroom with shower, and a darkroom with nine work stations. A building permit for the second floor has yet to be approved, but the plan for the upper level includes a computer lab, library, kitchen and student lounge.

Classes have been up and running since September but the real celebration will be this weekend. The school offers part-time studies, mentoring opportunities and a full-time, two-year diploma program that includes instruction on the craft of printmaking, darkroom and lighting techniques, as well as the realities of working in the art world. Classes are usually no more than eight people.