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.
While we have no desire to increase our enrollment of full-time College students, we need to house more of the existing population on campus than we do currently, and "decompress" our cramped facilities. This will provide relief for the existing demand our students make on privately owned housing stock in our surrounding neighborhoods.
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 seeks 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. This more complete version of the design should be complete in spring 2013.
NEC hopes to break ground in 2015 with the opening of Phase I 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, community meeting schedules and notes, new images, media reports, and opportunities to make a donation to the project.