2 Feb 2012

Reactions to the Opening of the Wolfe Center

Author: Blythe | Filed under: BGSU, Spring 2012, Wolfe Center

By Blythe Suppes

From the outside, it has the appearance of a rock emerging from the flat ground. On the inside, it is the newest center of productions for the theater and film department at BGSU.

The Wolfe Center was finished in December and is in use this semester. The building is roughly 93,000 square feet and cost approximately $42 million. Its name comes from two of the sponsors of the project, Frederic and Mary Wolfe.

This model is displayed on the second floor of the Wolfe Center. Photo by Blythe Suppes.

Ryan Miller, the project manager of design and construction for the Wolfe Center, said that this is the first building BGSU has built in which the theaters were meant to be theaters. The previously existing theaters on campus were originally built to serve other purposes, for instance, a basketball court.

Devon King, a BGSU theater major from Dayton, Ohio, said that her classes in the Wolfe Center are going well. While having classes in a new building is an adjustment, King said that it is nice to have well-equipped classrooms in a building

The mosaic stones lie beneath the floor in the hall outside of Eva Marie Saint Theatre. Photo by Blythe Suppes.

where “everything works.”

Theater and film department chair Ron Shields enthusiastically led a tour of the Wolfe Center. He pointed out the ancient mosaic stones strategically placed beneath glass on the floor in the hall outside of the Eva Marie Saint Theatre.

BGSU purchased and professionally cleaned the mosaics over 40 years ago. Shields said that placing the mosaics beneath the glass on the floor is a way to display the ancient artifacts how they were always meant to be viewed.

Eva Marie Saint Theatre is a black box theater that can be used as a practice room as well as opened up to an audience for performances.

“The key element in this space is flexibility,” Shields said.

This theater has movable platforms and a ceiling structure that can support the weight of people and equipment.

The strong ceiling structure of the Eva Marie Saint Theatre can support people and equipment. Photo by Blythe Suppes.

The scene shop was another feature Shields pointed out on the tour.

“I call it the Taj Mahal of all scene shops,” Shields said.

Scenery and props can be created in this room, and then transported through the large doors and directly to the backstage of the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre.

Beneath the tallest part of the building, called a fly tower, the Donnell Theatre is big enough to support advanced sets and new equipment as well as an audience of about 400 people, according to a BGSU press release. However, this theater is also small enough that students “don’t have to scream to be heard,” Shields said.

Ron Shields described the features of the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre. Photo by Blythe Suppes.

There were some obstacles along the way with the construction of the Wolfe Center. Construction took longer than planned, Miller said, because the workers had to excavate rocks and keep water from flooding the construction site.

“Every project you do is a learning experience,” Miller said.

Both Miller and Shields said they are proud to have been a part of the Wolfe Center project.

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