2 Feb 2012

No Detail is Too Small for BGSU’s New Performing Arts Building

Author: Hannah Hilyard | Filed under: BGSU, Wolfe Center

By Hannah Hilyard

Taking a stroll through Bowling Green State University’s campus, students are used to seeing different variations of the same brick buildings, but not anymore.

BGSU has added a little concrete and glass to the mix.

Overlooking the lobby, it is hard to miss Senstad's large mural. Photo by Hannah Hilyard.

Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta designed BGSU’s new Wolfe Center for the Arts, which opened its doors for classes this semester after spending $42 million and years of construction.

Snøhetta is an architect firm based out of Oslo, Norway, and New York City. The Wolfe Center will be the firm’s first finished project in the United States, according to a press release from the university. Snøhetta’s next building set to open this year is the 9/11 museum in New York City.

Elaine Molinar, Snøhetta’s project architect for the Wolfe Center, said in an email that the firm found the BGSU project attractive because of the culture and context of the university. “There are not too many buildings which resemble our work on campus or in town and we hoped that a new arts building would bring an interesting vitality to the campus and the Arts programs,” she said.

Molinar also said in an email that the inspiration for the new building comes from Ohio’s landscape. “In this case the flat, rolling Ohio landscape was compelling and suggested a building which seemed to gradually emerge from it, “ she said.

With grass growing up part of the building, the building itself jets from the ground at an unusual angle.

Ronald Shields, the chair of the Theatre and Film Department, had a large role in the process and said the goal of the building was to be a functional piece of art.

Film major Jimmy Kerr, a 21-year-old from Avon Lake, Ohio, is one of the BGSU students reaping the benefits from the new arts building. With all the artistic aspects of the building, the Wolfe Center gives him a workspace he can draw inspiration from, he said.

When people first walk into the main entrance, they will see a 28 feet by 86 feet mural on the opposite wall. Norwegian artist Anne Katrine Senstad created her largest piece ever for the Wolfe Center. It shows the sun breaking through the Northwestern sky enlarged more than 1,000 times, Shields said.

The Wolfe Center also contains two brand new theaters. The Donnell Theater can hold 400 people and has a stage that could house a Broadway musical, Shields said.

The Eva Marie Saint Theater is a black box theater with versatile seating arrangements.  However, it is the lobby that offers a pleasant surprise, Molinar said.

The Roman mosaics can be seen in the lobby of the Eva Marie Saint Theater. Photo by Hannah Hilyard.

Walking through the narrow lobby of the Eva Marie Saint Theater, a group of Roman mosaics have been encased in the floor with dramatic lights shining down on them. These floor mosaics were put in cases on the floor because their original purpose was to be walked on. The university purchased these 2,000-year-old structures more than 40 years ago, Shields said.

The Wolfe Center houses classes this semester for the first time and offers students the “best of the best,” the university’s official spokesperson Jen Sobolewski said.

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