For once I agree with you. This building is a nothing burger.The more that I look into the use of this new arts center, the more disturbing it becomes. It does not address most of the practical needs of the arts programs. As mentioned, the concert hall (if you can call it that) seats just over 100. That does nothing other than provide classroom functions. There is no theatre for the drama program, yet celebrity actor Tony Shalhoub has appeared to promote the center with this program as an inclusion. (He had a wonderful experience at USM for dramatic arts.) And so, it does not address a wider use for the center, and now it's apparently for book arts too. Huh? Book arts? That's a thing? I've been to nearly every key museum around the nation and books arts is such a small thing it's not even worth mentioning. This facility needs to be at least three times bigger to address the needs for the college. Here we go again, building something in Maine that will soon become outdated. True, it's beautiful on the outside and will look great at that end of the campus, but interior usage is the most important aspect to architecture. Sorry, but this building fails. How can it not? The copy below is kind of B.S., really. It's really only a place for students to practice music. It's a misnomer.
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Studzinski Recital HallMerrill Auditorium and Westbrook Performing Arts Center are the appropriate spaces for the more refined music, drama, and ballet. Aura is a club venue. The State Theater was once an X-rated movie house, but it's cool so it has that going for it. But also in my point is the misnomer "Center for the Arts". They are now primarily promoting it as classroom space for music and now exhibition space for book arts. Teaching drama and ballet can be done anywhere with four walls and a roof, and it is. I'm just asking for clarity, that's all. $60 million is a lot of money to spend if much of it goes to exhibition space for book arts. I think the solution is to add height to the recital space with balconies to increase seating. Bowdoin's recital hall seats 280. I would make the USM one around 500 with more balconies (height). USM has one of the best music programs in the country and this space will be less than half the size of Bowdoin's. Why fall short? Book arts? Use that money.
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Somehow someone has influenced this build for a gallery or galleries for book arts. This is grossly unnecessary. It's another example of a public institution spending money wildly and not "thinking" about the proper and needed usage. "Stupid is as stupid does." Yes, that's true in this case. In some ways, this tiny new recital space will be more of a hinderance than not. The subterfuge is in the naming of the facility: "Center for the Arts." It should be the "The center for small capacity recitals and looking at book art." Someone write an op/ed in the PPH. I'm just so weary.Studzinski Recital Hall
at Bowdoin College has nearly 3 times the capacity of what they are proposing at USM. Clearly insufficient for even their small program needs. The other venues available would often be too large for their programming.
Hoorah for it being fossil fuel free etc .... however it is an eyesore that is certainly eye catching for all the wrong reasons. You can blah blah on all you want about it being forward thinking but in the end it is a horribly unattractive building.The bar has been raised for new construction at universities (see link). The everywhere talk today in this context is about when a school can achieve carbon neutrality, and this is a good start. However, I wonder how much geothermal in a hi-rise building like this increases the cost? Is it worth the big feel good?