Renovations for the Music Building courtyard have been completed this semester with a new facade, hanging gardens, art and a common space around the Voertman Performance Hall. Plans for the space’s renovations were proposed by the Dean of the College of Music John W. Richmond and SmithGroup Architects were hired in Spring 2018 to develop a concept and design.
Construction began in May of this year and the official grand opening ceremony took place on Oct. 3rd. The approved budget for this project was $2.6 million.
“The courtyard was a space that was in pretty sad shape and no one used the space other than to walk through on their way to another space,” Associate Dean for Operations at the College of Music Jon Nelson said. “We really wanted the space to be much more inviting and to be a space that students, faculty and guests would use to congregate in at any time of the day.”
Several faculty members of the College of Music insisted that the area should be upgraded for better visibility and lighting and more utilization of the courtyard itself.
“The vision was to have an extension of the Voertman Hall lobby for guests to gather before and after concerts,” Building Manager for the College of Music Rebeca Galindo said. “The old courtyard just did not have that. This renovation has brought life to the courtyard. You can see people sitting at the tables and even classes being conducted outside if whether permits.”
The college wanted these new installations to help create a more open and approachable environment for its students and faculty members.
“This space will provide a sitting area for students to enjoy chatting with their classmates or simply have a peaceful time outdoors,” Galindo said. “With the nice screen in the area, the students and general public can be informed about the college and the concerts to come.”
According to Sr. Auxiliary Planning Manager Janell Cottam, the courtyard’s drainage system also needed improvement as there was concern that some of the drain lines below ground were clogged and not functioning.
The patio surface was sinking along the North Wall, and there was concern for what might be happening underground in that location, Cottam said.
Nelson anticipates that the newly renovated courtyard will also be used to hold concert events, receptions and gatherings.
“The space vastly improves the overall look and feel of this significant entrance to the college and provides us with a very pleasant space that can be used for post-concert receptions,” Nelson said. “Previously, we might see one lone student out there for a short period in the span of a week. While now, we often see 20 to 30 people out there many times per day.”
The Music Building is now in the midst of three other renovation projects that will hopefully be finished in stages some time in the next year.
A recent facilities study has shown a need to build new facilities that would replace the Music Annex, Bain Hall and both of the old practice buildings. Currently, the college is working to raise funding for the first large phase of building.
“We are currently completely renovating our old choir room, which should be completed by the start of Spring 2020, and will be renovating our Recital Hall and the MEIT Theater next summer,” said Nelson. “There are a number of other similar projects that are needed to provide better sound isolation within the college, while providing more comfortable and useable spaces.”
Featured Image: Gabriel Nieves (left) and Joshua Zeitlin (right) sit outside the entrance of the UNT College of Music. Image by Veronica Rosas