The 18-month reconstruction of Schaeffer Auditorium is progressing ahead of schedule.
The project, which was originally designated to start in January 2012, started in March 2012 and is scheduled to be completed before August of 2013.
According to Sean Dallas, the Assistant Director of University Relations, the project is a few weeks ahead of schedule. Dallas said that any winter storms should not delay the project due to the efficiency in which it is being done.
“The expectations [for the project] are positive,” said Dallas.
The project includes renovating the original auditorium and building an addition for various necessary features.
The core of the building will remain the same, according to Dallas. The stage and two sets of staircases will remain in place while everything else including windows and seats will be replaced. Dallas further stated that the building will be more environmentally friendly.
The new sections of Schaeffer include a loading dock, production storage space, a 90-seat classroom, a 1200 square foot rehearsal hall, an elevator, freight elevator, a small gallery displayed in a new staircase and a connecting hallway between the lobby, backstage, and new additions. A mutual courtyard between Schaeffer and the Sharadin Art Building will connect the performing and visual arts, according to Dallas.
The loading dock and storage space are important for the KU Presents! program, according to Amy Botwright, the manager of patron services for KU Presents! Botwright is temporarily directing the program during Schaeffer renovation and as they search to replace former director Andrew Cassano.
KU Presents! is currently showcasing its events in the Multipurpose Room of the Student Union Building. The room is transformed into Ursa Minor’s Café, offering beverages at 6:30 PM and performances at 7:30 PM.
Botwright said that Ursa Minor’s Café has a lot to offer while Schaeffer is unavailable. The KU presents! program in Ursa Minor’s Café produced sold-out events. The Café has 300 seats, as compared to Schaeffer’s 800 seats. According to Botwright, this venue allows more intimate performances, the audience being closer to the stage, availability of food and an overall more casual setting.
“[Renovation] gave us an opportunity to try smaller acts,” said Botwright. “Responses from patrons have been good.”
The smaller performances may find success at Schaeffer in the future. Botwright said that the smaller rooms can be used for continuing the intimate performances of small acts like Project Trio, one of the musical performances for the 2012-2013 season. This year, the first performance for KU Presents! starts on Oct. 3.
Schaeffer, however, will allow for larger performances. The increase in space near the stage will allow for more performers and equipment per performance. The program plans to expand to larger acts instead of more commercial acts, according to Botwright.
The project is affecting students as well. The construction cuts students off from a few pathways on campus. A temporary path was made from Main Street to the academic buildings, which may be inconvenient for some.
“It’s a hardship for the students, but for a better purpose,” said Dallas. “[Schaeffer] will be a state-of-the-art auditorium.”
While Kutztown is getting about $15.2 million from the Pennsylvania agency, Department of General Services and Education and General (E&G) funds, Dallas said the Kutztown Foundation needs to raise more money to pay the difference. According to the Project Status Report of the Kutztown Facilities Project Services, the project will cost about $20.1 million.
By: Emily Leayman