• Amy Laskowski

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    Amy Laskowski

    Amy Laskowski graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a degree in English, and earned a master’s in journalism at the College of Communication in 2015. She helps edit the work of BU Today’s interns and is always hunting for interesting, quirky stories around BU. Profile

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There are 19 comments on Plans Unveiled for New Theater Facility on Comm Ave

  1. If this doesn’t get you excited as a school of theatre graduate then you are committed to being angry. This is a beautiful building in the heart of campus with BRAND NEW facilities! It is the dawn of a new age for the program. Sure things will be different and the close relationship with the Huntington will be missed but this is an exciting moment for the CFA and the School of Theatre. Kudos to the University for this awesome gesture

    1. Oh, where’s the beautiful building? Is it behind the godawful ugly building in the renderings? Even the inside of that building looks ugly. I guess this isn’t much of a surprise though; hardly any post-war buildings are attractive. As with the fine arts, architecture has truly lost its way.

    2. It is too metallic. I dont like how it juts out on top.
      The theatre looks like my high school basketball court with chairs.
      Doent look comfortable space
      Doesnt look like a theatre
      250 seats is not enough
      It look like the new theatre at Gardner Museum -too cold.
      What about putting a larger theatre in front of the Yawkey center/student services on Comm. ave. at entry to Kenmore square.Could be uses for theatre and music performance. Not that difficult for studnets to get to. Would get more of the general public as well

  2. As an avid theatergoer and a BU prof involved in the arts, I’m delighted to see the theater arts burgeoning at the university. As you read on, keep in mind this fundamental point: the addition of a state-of-the-art mid-size theater to the university landscape is a GOOD THING. Congratulations to CFA for this very exciting development.

    But…

    It appears that this theater has been developed without serious discussion and consideration for its use as a space for presenting motion picture media. It’s not the School of Theatre’s job to worry about this, but given that BU has no movie theater on campus, we seem to be missing an opportunity here to serve the broader needs of the arts community— and to be thinking and working as one institution.

    Perhaps the development of this new performance space will allow Tsai Performance Center to be retrofitted to serve as a media theater. The relative deadness of Tsai’s acoustics make it a tough venue for live performance but better suited to the presentation of lectures and recorded media. The recent Redstone Film Festival screening at Tsai revealed serious deficiencies in the projection set-up there, however.

    A final point: Recent building projects at BU such as the Marciano Commons and the redevelopment of the Law School (both of which I believe were designed by Bruner/Cott) gave me hope that the university was weaning itself from its reliance on Elkus Manfredi as its go-to architectural firm. Elkus Manfredi are a team of hardworking, journeyman architects. They are a big company with a proven record, but what that record proves is that they are followers, not leaders in their field. These buildings along Comm Ave will be defining our campus long after we are gone, and every edifice the university erects adds to or detracts from its legacy as an actor (pun intended) in the city’s cultural life. Going forward, I would urge the university to make a concerted effort to work with more nimble and visionary design firms. Two local examples that come to mind are William Rawn Associates and Peter Rose + Partners.

    1. I agree!! It would be nice to have a bit more originality in a theater space if they are going to all the trouble of building a new, modern space. Their designs look like the “new” performance space at the Gardner museum. A small space that really doesn’t give a lot of flexibility or as much of hands on in a large road house type space. That is a detraction for their students. A company like William Rawn Associates is a fantastic local firm that knows how to design wonderful, adaptable performance spaces that are much more creative and modern than the designs I see here. Maybe next time?

    2. Professor Merzbacher,

      Just as a point of clarification and in fairness to Elkus Manfredi, the architectural firm of Canon Design had been the go-to firm for the University. Canon Design was the architect for all of the Student Village Buildings as well as the academic buildings on Commonwealth Avenue, and Cummington and St. Mary’s Streets.

      1. Marc– Fair point. Upon further investigation, Canon does get the “go-to architecture firm” award at BU. But Elkus Manfredi has a long association with with the university, and I believe has been or is involved in designs for COM and SHA. I don’t want to be hyperbolic: I don’t dislike everything Canon or Elkus Manfredi has done. I don’t even dislike the renderings of the proposed new theater. But when you have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create a new arts center in the heart of the university, I think we need to hold ourselves to a very high design standard, and by that yardstick, I think we can do better.

  3. 250 seats. This means it has a quarter to a third of the seats of the Huntington, presumably less space on stage and for the orchestra, and it costs twice as much to build as what we got for selling the Huntington. Hmm… .

  4. Prof. Merzbacher, I appreciate your thoughtful perspectives and your suggestions for visionary design firms. As a former design student, I agree with you about the power of building and public spaces to define our street blocks, campuses and cities long after we are gone. Thank you!

  5. I love the fact that even in the world of digital preliminal renderings, all of the actors are white.

    #ClearlyNoDiversityProblemsInBoston

  6. Architectural comment – the building looks somewhat bird friendly -and I like that! The American Bird Conservancy recently published “BirdFriendly Buildings” stating 300 million to 1 billion birds die each year from collisions with glass on buildings. The ABC provides solutions for builders and this rendering looks (mostly) compliant. http://collisions.abcbirds.org Maybe we can bring this to the architect’s attention.

  7. What a beautiful addition to Boston’s arts and cultural landscape! Now the students can spend more time on the creative arts and less time traveling across town!?!

    I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Merzbacher: “These buildings along Comm Ave will be defining our campus long after we are gone, and every edifice the university erects adds to or detracts from its legacy as an actor (pun intended) in the city’s cultural life.”

  8. I must admit I am a bit disappointed with both the inside and the outside of the new building. The performing space looks very sterile… a metal box has no style… great to have the theatre department all together, but how can one replace the history and connection with the Huntington that those of us who got our Master’s there benefited from?? Fantastic to have the new theatre and ability to build sets and costumes, but it is still far from “a professional space” that most Master’s candidates will experience in their lives after BU!

    1. I agree with Linda and though any new space will work for actors and directors it will be sorely lacking for all of the techies. The loss of the stage and arch will hinder a true professional experience that most theatre techs will face professionaly.
      The reality of “renting” space downtown for large productions has yet to be fully explained as I see it frought with complications, not least the interface with the unions.
      Since the goal is to integrate and there is good will from the community of Brookline why not build a real theatre that accomodates theatre, opera and all medias. This would put BU on the top as far as a theater and art school.

  9. BU is the king of ugly buildings – they simply keep designing a non-architecturally cohesive campus with buildings that rapidly go out of date in style. This building is ugly, Mugar is ugly, the law school is ugly, too many to name are ugly.

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