Music Pavilion will Elevate Art Reputation and Focus on Student Learning, Well-Being

Michigan State University recently began constructing a new, state-of-the-art, 37,000-square-foot Music Pavilion that will increase the current area by over 40 percent, including 8,500 square feet of renovations to the existing space. 

“The project is going very well,” said Jim Forger, MSU’s dean of the College of Music and professor of saxophone. “Fencing is up, the trailer for the crew is in place, and underground utilities are being worked on. They are building a retention wall to hold back the dirt and getting ready to shore up the foundation. The Hart Recital Hall has been demolished, and we are right on schedule.”

The last renovations at what is currently the Music Building, took place in 1956, and Forger said the new pavilion will help to bring the College of Music into the 21st century. The plans include bigger, more up-to-date spaces for practicing, rehearsing and doing research. The new pavilion will spread to the west and south in the direction of West Circle Drive and will attach to the present Music Building’s facade.

“We’ve been working in a 1939 building with no HVAC and very small rooms the size of an elevator, so we need new ones,” said Forger. “It is a health and welfare issue, as now students have to work with the practice rooms open for safety reasons.”

Forger added that renovations to the music facilities have been on the university’s needs list for a long time. The College of Music has around 600 music students working on their degrees and about 2,000 other students active in ensembles and classes.

The Music Pavilion is being built at no cost to taxpayers; with all funds being privately raised via monetary gifts and donations. It is part of the Empower Extraordinary Campaign, which runs through the end of the year. The campaign has raised more than $1 billion to go toward the Music Pavilion and three other priority areas: 100 new endowed chairs, the Business College Pavilion and the Grand Rapids Research Center.

According to Forger, $17.5 million of the $35 million needed for the project is coming from undesignated gifts, and the college is matching the other half of the money needed. 

“The funding is all donor-driven,” said Forger. “We still need to raise $3 million. The money is being raised in many ways, with donations from $50 and up.”

One example of how the new Music Pavilion will impact future users is how much the school’s percussion studio will benefit from the building. The new Percussion Area will inhabit 4,144 square feet of the 35,000-square-foot Music Pavilion. It will include rehearsal space, two offices, reserved practice rooms and two studios for faculty.

Previously housed in a basement space, the new location elevates it into a modern, purposeful area. It will be larger and will include a rehearsal room with skylights to bring in natural lighting and an acoustic-baffled ceiling for soundproofing. It gets rid of the previous problems associated with low ceilings, small rooms, and health hazards like poor temperature control, poor ventilation and potential damage to students’ hearing due to poor acoustics.

The Music Pavilion project will provide both new and renovated spaces that are specially designed to be in tune with the College of Music’s needs. It brings expanded practice rooms, classrooms, rehearsal rooms and technology spaces expected to help the College of Music build on its programs as well as maintain and attract new talents and strengthen its position worldwide.

A team of leading architecture and acoustical professionals from Bora Architects and Kirkegaard Associates drew up the plans. The work will ensure the new Music Pavilion reflects and honors MSU’s historic past with its traditional architectural constructions of brick, granite and slate. The blueprints are from the same people who did work on Cook Recital Hall in 2012 and Fairchild Theatre in 2013. Input from college faculty is also expected to play a part in the final construction and renovations.

The new addition will comprise four spacious rehearsal rooms for orchestras, bands, percussion and jazz. Each will include appropriate storage areas, audio and visual gear, and sound lock vestibules. Creating each area specifically for different kinds of music so each can play in rooms designed for the proper acoustic ranges.

The new pavilion also includes plans for a social and cafe space. According to Forger, the space is “much needed” and can be used for things like receptions, informal meetings, socializing and independent study that will help to advance the collaborative spirit of the college.

As for actual construction issues, attention is also being spent on things besides music considerations. The new pavilion will have proper heating and cooling systems. The space will take into consideration the noise levels from the HVAC processes and will not interfere with the college’s need for proper acoustics for the music practices and performances.

All in all, the new Music Pavilion is expected to serve the needs of students, faculty and the community now and into the future. The new Music Pavilion and related renovations are expected to be completed in June 2020.


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