As New England Conservatory seeks to educate outstanding young musicians for the 21st Century, we need to provide the up-to-date facilities that will enhance the quality of their student life. From more performance venues and practice spaces, more comfortable living areas, a state-of-the-art library, and a more inviting dining commons, our campus needs to reflect the excellence of the education we provide.
What’s more, we need to create a more distinctive and welcoming front door on Boston’s Avenue of the Arts (Huntington Avenue). We need to become a more appealing destination for our neighbors through the creation of attractive streetscapes, accessible performance venues, and public dining facilities. And we need to share what we do with the community through greater transparency of our buildings.
As we have assured our neighborhood community, NEC has no plans to increase its enrollment. We have determined that the current 750 full-time students are the ideal maximum for the supportive and nurturing environment of which we are so proud. Beyond that number, the quality of education—based fundamentally on the one-on-one teaching model—would decline. Similarly, we have stated our intention to house more students on campus than we presently do. There are two reasons for this:
- To reduce the demand our students make on privately owned housing stock in the surrounding neighborhoods.
- To enhance our students' social lives and sense of shared community
In order to accomplish these goals, we need to "decompress" our cramped facilities. But we can do that without enlarging the campus footprint. By building on our St. Botolph parking lot, we can realize our dreams, while still maintaining a compact, interconnected, educational/residential hub.
In recent years, the Conservatory has invested in increased scholarship support for our students, a stellar faculty, cutting edge programs, and renovation of our historic buildings. It is now time to focus on our campus—a mandate not only of our 2008 Strategic Plan but also the professional associations that grant us accreditation.
To begin, NEC engaged in an extensive Master Planning process involving all constituencies of the Conservatory family, and predicated on the need to work within and optimize the existing footprint of real estate owned by the Conservatory: the four buildings and parking lot surrounding the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Gainsborough Street (locator map). The resulting plan set forth an ambitious program that has been the foundation of the conceptual design rendered with great imagination by our architects, Ann Beha Architects. In January 2012, NEC submitted an Institutional Master Plan Notification form/Project Notification Form to the City of Boston through which it sought approval for construction. In summer 2012, NEC received the go-ahead from permitting agencies to proceed with the plan. Throughout the fall of 2012, the architects fleshed out the plan, in consultation with the various Conservatory stakeholders who confirmed or elaborated on earlier assumptions of programmatic needs. In December 2013, the Board of Trustees approved the Conceptual Design and voted to proceed with construction drawings.
NEC hopes to break ground in 2015 with the opening of the Student Life and Performance Center planned for fall 2017—to coincide with the Conservatory's 150th anniversary.
On these pages, we will document our progress as we move forward with this eagerly anticipated project. We hope you will come back often for the latest updates, new images, media reports, and opportunities to make a donation to the project.