2 Feb 2012

BGSU Wolfe Center

Author: Teddie Livingston | Filed under: BGSU, Donnell Theatre, Spring 2012, Student Contributor, Wolfe Center

By Teddie Livingston

Almost 30 years ago, Ron Shields, chair of Theatreand Film Department, was told not to unpack his bags because he would be moving into a new building soon. The day has finally come with the completion of the Wolfe Center for the Arts.

The 93,000-square-foot Wolfe Center was a $42 million energy-efficient production designed by Snøhetta, a Norwegian international architectural firm. It was Snøhetta’s first project completed in the northeast United States. The Wolfe Center opened to public in December after two years of construction.

In December, BGSU opened the Wolfe Center, which became the new home for the arts.

The Wolfe Center includes a choral rehearsal room, a make-up room, a scene shop, a dance studio, a production, general educational rooms, four computer labs and two state-of-the-art theaters.

“I think it should be noted that this is the first time in history the university built a theater from scratch,” Shields said. All the other theaters on campus were once lecture halls or basketball courts.

The Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center.

The Donnell Theatre was the most expensive part of the building, said Ryan Miller, design and construction project manager. The 400-seat theater has two orchestra lifts, a collapsible stage and movable seating, with donor’s names engraved on some of the seats.

The Eva Marie Saint Theatre, named after BGSU alumna, is a “black box” theater a square room with black walls. The theater will have flexible seating arrangements and bright red seats with a seating capacity of 120, which will allow audience and performer relationships.

Miller said every piece of lighting and sound equipment is new in both theaters.

The technology available in the Wolfe Center is much better than other theaters on campus.

“We provide state-of-the-art technology; we want the students to build and have the best learning experience,” Miller said.

Staff members were brought into the center in Nov. to get a feel for the new technology, he said.

Dylan McFarland, a theater major, cannot wait to test all the new technology to its full potential.

“The ability we have in this building is far superior than other art class or theaters like in University Hall,” McFarland said.

McFarland is very excited to be a part of the theater production. Most of his time is spent in the scene shop. He builds scenery for productions, from the walls, to furniture, to the props.

“The building is a place where the arts can come together under one roof. It may take you by surprise, but the lobby grabs a lot of attention,” said Jen Sobolewski, BGSU spokesperson.

The names of lead donors, including Mary and Frederick Wolfe, are located on a wall in the main lobby of the Wolfe

"The Eternal" by Anne Sentad. Photo by Teddie Livingston

In the lobby there is an 80-by-30-foot mural, which is divided into 39 gray and yellow pieces that hangs over the grand staircase. The dominating wall piece of art is titled, “Eternal” by a Norwegian artist Anne Senstad. Shields said Senstad got her inspiration from the sun trying to break through the Ohio clouds. Senstad has other pieces of art located in the center.

One of Shield’s favorite parts about the building is the artwork located in the lower lobby under the grand staircase.

“The Wolfe Center brings the arts together into one building,” said Shields.

BGSU plans to put together theater productions that will put the new state-of-the-art-equipment to the test. The first production will be “Arabian Nights” in February, followed by “Hercules” and the musical “Chicago”.

“The Wolfe Center offers students the best of the best,” said Sobolewski.


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