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Sunday, 13 October 2013 22:00

$30 million music center at heart of Interlochen expansion plan

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Cornerstone Architects helped Interlochen Center for the Arts envision what housing all its music programs under one roof could look like in this rendering. After the school’s board tabled the project in the middle of the recession in 2009, it’s now planning a capital campaign to fund the new music center and other projects. Cornerstone Architects helped Interlochen Center for the Arts envision what housing all its music programs under one roof could look like in this rendering. After the school’s board tabled the project in the middle of the recession in 2009, it’s now planning a capital campaign to fund the new music center and other projects. COURTESY RENDERING

Tired buildings and the need for more space are pushing one renowned Michigan arts school toward a multimillion dollar expansion of its campus.

Officials at the Interlochen Center for the Arts say the school needs new and updated facilities to meet the demands of its foundational music programs.

To address those needs, a new $30 million music center is at the heart of plans for a capital campaign for the school, situated just south of Traverse City between Green Lake and Duck Lake.

School officials shelved a similar project four years ago, but they’ve begun to revisit those plans now that the economy has started to improve. With several smaller facilities scattered across the campus, the school’s board of directors wants to consolidate and modernize its music facilities to keep its offerings competitive and to be able to attract more students.

The board commissioned a visioning and planning session led by Grand Rapids-based Cornerstone Architects Inc. in 2009 that developed a plan for a new music center that would house all the music programs under one roof.

Like many other projects that were conceived in the economic downturn, the music center was tabled as the school’s board of directors decided to hold off on fundraising. Given the general economic recovery, they’re now testing the waters to see if the project is viable.

“The board has OK’d the project, provided we have the financial resources to make it happen,” said Chris Hintz, national marketing and communication manager for Interlochen Center for the Arts. “At this moment, we don’t have any announcements planned for the building.”

The academy is currently planning and organizing a capital campaign, which the new music building is expected to be a very big part of, Hintz said.

Making it easier for students to get between classes and having the different music programs in the same building are just a couple aspects of the plan for the new center that would make operations easier and more efficient, he said.

“It’s still in the planning phases so we don’t really have any date or timelines ready at this moment,” Hintz said. “There is a lot of planning and hard work that we still need to do before we can make this building a reality. Certainly, at some point, we will be making announcements and asking for support from those who want to invest in the future of our musical culture.”

That culture dates back to the late 1920s when Interlochen founder Joseph E. Maddy originally started the National Music Camp. In 1962, Interlochen Arts Academy welcomed its first students. Since then, the school continued to expand including in 2004 when it created the Interlochen College of Creative Arts.

The school now boasts more than 300 faculty and staff and roughly 500 students, more than half of whom major in music performance. Interlochen also claims some very famous alumni, including singer/songwriter/actress Norah Jones, actor Ed Helms, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and singer Josh Groban.

Given Interlochen’s status as a prestigious music school, any new facility must be equally as impressive and state of the art, said Tom Nemitz, president of Cornerstone Architects.

His firm came up with the schematics for a new facility that includes additional rehearsal space, a performance hall in addition to the current 985-seat Corson Auditorium and a teaching wing with classrooms and practice space. The design also includes spaces for equipment storage and a redesigned lobby that builds on the original concourse, which was designed by Alden Dow.

The design was celebrated this month by the American Institute of Architects Grand Rapids chapter with an honorable mention in the unbuilt facility category at its annual Honor Awards.

“When we did those designs in 2009, it was truly conceptual, and we weren’t sure which way it was going to go, if they were going to move into a capital campaign or not,” Nemitz said. “We haven’t really been talking to them lately about it, since we’ve recently finished a couple of other projects for them.”

Interlochen has long been one of Cornerstone Architects’ core clients. The school has a handful of other projects that were completed in recent years, including the second phase of Interlochen’s music pavillion and the Mallory Towsley Center for Arts Leadership, but a new music center is a greatly needed project, Nemitz said.

Currently, most of the music program’s facilities are spread out across the campus with no real hub. It’s only logical that updating the music facilities and putting them under one roof would be the next step, Nemitz said.

The current design for the proposed music center features glass and natural wood that help downplay the mass that comes with a 106,000-square-foot facility. It also pays homage to the campus’ legacy by incorporating the existing rotunda, he said.

“This is a very important project for Interlochen,” Hintz said. “We want to make sure we plan it very carefully, from the fundraising to the construction to the faculty and students who will ultimately use the building.” 

Read 6549 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 November 2013 12:31

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