BGSU Ups the Ante with the Brand New Wolfe Center for the ArtsAuthor: Nate Dudzik | Filed under: Spring 2012, Student Contributor, Wolfe Center
By Nate Dudzik
Since 1915, University Hall at Bowling Green State University was the focal point for the performing arts, theater and music. As of December 2011, that title now belongs to the Wolfe Center for the Arts.
“There used to be a big gap between music, theater and art,” said senior vocal performance major Brigitte Reinke. “The Wolfe Center ties together these three concepts and makes it easily accessible for students.”
Designed by the Norwegian international architectural company Snøhetta, the Wolfe Center is a $42 million project that began construction in 2009. With a sleek design and state-of-the-art technology, the brand-new building is a place many students now call home.
The Wolfe Center is unlike any other building on the campus at BGSU. A 93,000 square-foot building, it boasts two brand-new theaters and classrooms with innovative and state-of-the-art technology along other various workstations. However, it is the design of the building that draws the most attention.
“The designers of the building (Snøhetta) wanted it to have the force of that moment in time when the rocks moved through northwest Ohio that created the Great Black Swamp,” said Ron Shields, chair of the Department of Theatre and Film at BGSU. “The landscape of Ohio was shaped by the movement of glacial rocks and so you have the feeling of a building emerging out of the ground.”
One of the brand new additions is the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre. A 400-seat auditorium, the Donnell has a look that models a famous theater in Europe.
“Her Majesty’s Theatre was used as the building blocks for the interior design of the Donnell,” said Ryan Miller, the project manager at BGSU.
The Donnell is a dark-to-light auditorium that has both a lower and upper level. There is a third level balcony that is used to create the idea of a higher level and more space. Interestingly enough, the Donnell Theatre and the new Eva Marie Saint Theatre were both constructed completely brand-new, unlike the theaters in University Hall.
“It should be noted that this is the first time that the university built a theater from scratch,” said Shields. “Every piece is new, unlike the Joe E. Brown Theatre that was once a basketball court, and Eva Marie Saint Theatre that was once a classroom.”
The new and improved Eva Marie Saint Theatre went through many different changes since its move from University Hall. A 120-seat black box design, this flexible theater enables various audience-performer set-ups to encourage different settings and environments.
“Eva Marie Saint at University is non-replaceable,” said Reinke. “But the (Wolfe) center has performance rehearsal space and great acoustics that we’ve never had before.”
However, before audiences even step into the doors of Donnell or Eva Marie Saint, they are welcomed by an 80-by-30 foot mural named “The Eternal” by Norwegian artist Anne Senstad. A mural inspired by the sun, Senstad stated her inspiration came from the sunlight piercing through the clouds in Ohio. Senstad also has three other of her works that are on display throughout the Wolfe.
The Wolfe Center has made headline news not only locally, but in places outside the state of Ohio.
“I’ve contacted places in Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis to name a few,” said Jen Sobolewski, writer and communications specialist at BGSU. “Of course we’ve been in contact with our local news outlets, but social media has been our strongest marketing strategy.”
Sporting new top-of-the-line equipment and technology, one can only hope that this new jewel can turn some heads during the enrollment process.
“We finally have a facility to match the recognition of our programs,” said Sobolewski. “Hopefully this is the tipping factor for a lot of students considering BGSU.”