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Sense of Place

Studzinski Recital Hall and Kanbar Auditorium at Bowdoin College (Maine)

University Business, Sep 2007

THE CURTIS POOL BUILDING AT Bowdoin College is making waves again, but now from musical vibrations. A renovation project has replaced the indoor swimming pool with the Studzinski Recital Hall, a state-of-the-art performing space and practice facility. In May, it opened with an inaugural concert series in its 280-seat Kanbar Auditorium. Since 1928, the old building-designed by McKim, Mead and White-served as the location of the college's pool. That changed in 1987, the year the Farley Field House complex opened. The old building had not been used since.

- FUNCTIONS: The hall is a cultural venue for a variety of musical performances open to the public and serves the Bowdoin International Music Festival, which has its summer residence on campus. It also will play a major role in music education. Last year, Bowdoin implemented a requirement for first-year students to take one course in performing and visual arts. "We have had, for a long time, students who took courses in the arts, but never had a requirement," says Cristle Collins Judd, dean for Academic Affairs and professor of music.

$1 million - Reported annual salary of Catherine Reynolds, chair of EduCap, a nonprofit student loan organization under U.S. Senate investigation.

The hall includes a rehearsal room behind the stage; nine practice rooms; a lobby and box office; a reception area; performers' dressing rooms and restrooms; and a green room. The stage and seats are located in the old pool, but the design is enhanced by a curved "shoe-box" shape. The stage, the deepest part of the hall, is where the pool's shallow end once was. The building's exterior got a light touch up. Remnants remain, such as a section of the pool's original tile and a sign saying, "Please shower with soap before using pool."

"We saved some of the history of the place," says Don Borkowski, director of Capital Projects.

- CHALLENGES: The pool was cased inside a steel frame that literally supported the walls. A brainstorming session dealt with how to extricate the pool without disturbing the structure, explains Borkowski. Specialists created compression walls with tension bars for support, clamping them to the structure. Much of what was removed- steel, metal, and concrete-was recycled.

- COST: $15 million. The project complements the renovation of the 610-seat Pickard Theater and construction of the 150- seat Wish Theater, both finished in 2000, and the $20.8 million renovation and restoration of the Walker Art Building, which houses the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, which reopens this October.

- TIMELINE: Construction began in fall of 2005 and was completed in April 2007.

- PROJECT TEAM: Boston-based architectural firm William Rawn Associates, in collaboration with Kirkegaard Associates and Theater Projects of Chicago, who advised on acoustics and other sound issues; H.P. Cummings Construction Company of Winthrop, Maine, the same firm that built the original pool in 1927-1928. -M.H.

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