The long dispersed music department is moving closer to having a unified home with the completion of the first phase of renovation on the former Emory Baptist Church sanctuary as the Performing Arts Studio.
Currently the music department is housed in three facilities: the first floor of the Humanities Building, the Concerts Division house on Oxford Road, and the Performing Arts Studio/Burlington Road Building (formerly the Emory Baptist Church). Phase II of the renovation project will begin in June, and the entire music department is expected to be together in Performing Arts/Burlington Road by January.
Begun last October, Phase I of the renovation project includes the transformation of the 6,500-square-foot church sanctuary into the Performing Arts Studio and the renovation of a portion of the second story of the adjoining three-story Burlington Road Building, which was once the church's educational and administrative building.
The former sanctuary was entirely gutted to create the Performing Arts Studio, which has been used since January primarily for music rehearsals. The new facility provides the 60-70 performers in various music department ensembles with a permanent home for rehearsals and performances, and alleviates the logistical problems involved in the almost-daily process of setting up and breaking down the space in Glenn Memorial Church. That process was expensive and often resulted in damaged instruments, according to Ben Arnold, music department chair.
"We're still [acoustically] tuning the space," Arnold said. "The drapes are on order, and we need more sound absorption. But we've moved everybody in to see how live the space is. It's an additive process."
Providing music rehearsal space is the top priority for the Performing Arts Studio, but a limited number of performances will be offered beginning this month. A retractable seating bank for 250 is in the process of being installed. The space includes a box office, lobby, sound and light controls, and a maple sprung floor. The large windows from the original sanctuary have been preserved. The space also can accommodate some dance, theater and film activities, but no details for such activities have been finalized, Arnold said.
Facilities resulting from the Burlington Road portion of the renovation include six practice rooms, an electronic music studio, a choral rehearsal room, three faculty studio/offices and student instrument lockers.
Renovation of the remainder of the 30,000-square-foot Burlington Road Building will begin in June, after the religion department and the Institute of the Liberal Arts move into their permanent home in the Walker-Callaway Center (formerly the Physics Building). An independent Montessori School on the building's first floor also will depart in June, pending resolution of a lease dispute between Emory and the school's director. (See sidebar on page 4.) Sarah Boykin, project manager in Facilities Management, said asbestos abatement is scheduled to begin in Burlington Road July 1.
Phase II of the renovation will include music department offices, classrooms, rehearsal spaces, and studio/offices for 14 regular full-time faculty and 30 artist affiliates (who currently have no office space). The Concerts Division will move to the first-floor entrance area. "The renovations will give us a gain in space of 50 percent to 75 percent over what we now have," Arnold said.
The facility also provides some additional space for theater studies, including two
acting classrooms and some offices.
"With this renovation we are taking an important step in meeting the most urgent and critical needs of our academic programs in the performing arts," said Rosemary Magee, associate dean of Emory College. "The Performing Arts Studio and Burlington Road Building provide the foundation for further development of appropriate facilities for the arts, including other planned renovations and a new arts center."