NEC Board Votes to Begin Construction of New Student Life and Performance Center
As the climax of an intensive six-year planning process, the New England Conservatory Board of Trustees voted yesterday to begin construction this spring of the new Student Life and Performance Center (SLPC). The project—the Conservatory’s first new construction since 1959—will house a 250-bed residence hall, dining commons, gathering spaces, an opera studio/black box theatre, orchestra rehearsal room, and small ensemble room. It is scheduled to open in 2017, coinciding with the Conservatory’s 150th anniversary. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for May 5, 2015.
The Building’s Unique Features:
- To enhance illumination inside the building and allow visibility of interior activities from the street, the SLPC will feature numerous glass surfaces on the lower levels—including a prow-like extension of the Orchestra Rehearsal Room.
- Inside, a notable highlight will be the Opera Studio/Black Box Theatre (seen in sketch), a performing space that can be arranged in a variety of configurations for a variety of musical genres.
- The new two-level Library will re-integrate the Conservatory’s audio resources and its collection of printed material, which are now housed in separate locations.
- The Dining Commons, for which there will be public access, will not only offer places to eat, but also a venue for small ensemble performances.
- The Streetscape will also be improved with the addition of plantings, benches, and trees running the length of St. Botolph Street, turning the corner on Gainsborough Street and extending to Huntington Avenue.
- A traffic calming speed bump on Gainsborough Street will make for a safer pedestrian crossing to the Jordan Hall building.
Design by Ann Beha Architects and Gensler Boston, Construction by Tishman
Designed by Ann Beha Architects and Gensler Boston, the project will be built by Tishman Construction. Beha’s firm, which is headquartered in Boston, also steered the restoration of NEC’s historic Jordan Hall in 1994–1995, receiving numerous awards for historic preservation and illumination. Tishman previously executed the $21 million exterior renovations of the Conservatory’s four buildings in 2009–2010, winning numerous awards for historic preservation and green initiatives.
“The building and its new streetscape should welcome students, their families and faculty, and the greater and passionate musical community, to NEC,” said Beha. “Architecturally, this means creating spaces where performance and practice and daily life are kindred spirits; where learning, relaxation and community are well supported; and where design excellence sets a standard. Our pleasure has been designing a building that is both home and workplace, incorporating acoustic excellence, sustainability, and construction quality; pragmatic, but dynamic in its design expression, and its functions,” Beha said.
NEC Transforms the Student Experience
For students, the new building will have a powerful impact on their experience at NEC. “Having everything in one place will be a wonderful way to bring people together,” said student violinist Robyn Bollinger ’13, ’15 M.M. “Being able to practice, rehearse, and relax will be so much easier,” said Bollinger. “One can go back and forth quickly. You can take some down time and then jump back in. It will offer a great benefit for the health and happiness of the student body,” she said.
Funded through private philanthropy and financing, the Conservatory has raised to date $61.6 million. Trustee Board Chair, Kennett F. Burnes, praised the “extraordinary” support of Board members, alumni, and others who are helping the Conservatory meet its fundraising goal.
“The Student Life and Performance Center will transform the life of NEC students, faculty, staff, and the community. It will reflect and augment the Conservatory’s eminence in Boston and the world of music education and performance,” said Burnes. “This is a dynamic moment in time for NEC. In short order, we will be celebrating our 150th anniversary, engaging a new President, and opening a new building,” he said.
For further information, check the NEC Website.