Six new buildings start BGSU’s transformative planWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bowling Green State University is in the midst of a transformation, with six new buildings set to open on campus before the end of the year.
The Stroh Center, which opened July 1, was followed by two dining halls and two residence halls for the start of the school year. The Wolfe Center for the Arts is set to open in December.
“The transformative effect that all six of these buildings will have on the campus is phenomenal,” said Steven Krakoff, associate vice president of capital planning and campus operations. “Alumni who haven’t been on the campus in four to five years are amazed what we’ve done in a fairly short period of time.”
With a total cost of about $250 million, the project is the biggest building initiative in university history, but only the beginning of developments outlined in a master plan adopted by trustees in 2010, Krakoff said.
“We are very actively planning additional developments on campus,” he said. “The master plan calls for at least that much more spending going forward, so by no means are we done.
“This is really all being done in accordance with a broader vision with how the campus should develop extending 10 to 15 years from now.”
Dylan Murphy, a 2011 graduate now working with campus organizations, said he’s proud to see his alma mater put out bold plans.
“In this economy, either universities pull back and try to save money or you make yourself a contender in the marketplace and I think, to a degree, BG is doing the second,” Murphy said. “I just feel like that’s the way you do it. You don’t see great things from being safe. Greatness comes from taking risks. People come to universities for many reasons, not just academics. I’d rather be a part of something that seeks greatness rather than plays it safe.”
The Stroh Center, a $30 million, 140,000-square-foot athletic and event facility now home to the volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball programs, is “a signature building in a gateway location,” Krakoff said.
“It’s the first one you can see coming off I-75,” Krakoff said. “It really signals your entry into campus.”
All that’s left are finishing touches, like filling blank walls with memorabilia, said Jason Knavel, BGSU assistant athletics director for athletic communications.
A Sanctus Real concert on Aug. 13 was the first public event in the facility. On Sept. 9, the first athletic event was hosted at the facility when BGSU’s volleyball team beat Michigan State University as part of official grand opening celebrations.
Knavel said the Stroh Center, which replaced the 51-year-old Anderson Arena and Memorial Hall, is definitely an upgrade.
The building was named after Kermit Stroh, who donated $8 million toward its construction. The Anderson name will be retained in a section of high-end donor seating called the Anderson Club Section.
Unlike Anderson, almost all seats in the Stroh Center have chair backs. There are also several video boards, four concession stands instead of one, six restrooms instead of two and a practice court, Knavel said.
“Everybody that comes in and sees it, they’re just really wowed by it,” Knavel said. “I imagine fans going up those steps in front and coming out to that main aisleway and seeing the video board going and hearing the band playing and the team playing on the court. It’s going to be really just a fantastic atmosphere.”
University staff and resident assistants began moving into two new residence halls — Centennial Hall and Falcon Heights — the first week of August.
“When we made the buildings available for sign-ups, they were full within a matter of hours,” Krakoff said. “In both buildings, there are waiting lists numbering in the hundreds.”
Freshman-only Centennial Hall has 660 beds with two students per room sharing a private bathroom.
Falcon Heights houses 640 upperclassmen, offering suite-style living for four students with individual or two-person sleeping quarters, a common living area and two bathrooms. Both buildings feature Wi-Fi, lounges, meeting rooms, a recreation room, a kitchen and a laundry room. Falcon Heights also features a two-story lounge with a fireplace and balconies.
Sarah Waters, director of residence life, said the new housing options are modern, open and welcoming.
“It will add to the students’ sense of feeling at home and feeling comfortable so they can be most successful in their academics,” Waters said. “The newness, the privacy, the fantastic locations — it’s going to be a big deal for students as they return to campus and enjoy all the new and exciting things going on.”
Two new dining facilities — The Oaks and Carillon Place — bring the total of full-service dining facilities on campus to five. Meal plan options will be increased from three to nine.
Both dining halls are replacing facilities built in the 1960s, said Mike Paulus, director of BGSU Dining.
“It’s a little bit like night and day,” Paulus said. “Both facilities are state-of-the-art, all-you-care-to-eat-dining facilities with a multiple service format, including ethnic cuisine, delicatessen, soup stations, full salad bar and wood-fire pizza oven.”
Portions of McDonald Hall were razed to create space for The Oaks, a 32,000-square-foot facility that also includes a Dunkin’ Donuts, solar panels, a rooftop garden and a full-service exhibition kitchen meant to encourage interaction between kitchen staff and students.
The 17,000-square-foot Carillon Place, located next to the new Centennial Hall, will feature a Eurasian Grill station, similar to the Mongolian grill concept, as well as Pinkberry, a frozen yogurt shop popular on the West Coast. BGSU’s Pinkberry will be among the first on a college campus, said Sara Meyer, marketing director with BGSU Dining.
Both buildings will be LEED-certified as “green” and offer outdoor dining on the second floor.
Wolfe Center for the Arts
Slated to open in December, the Wolfe Center for The Arts will provide performance venues for theater, musical and arts productions as well as a home for BGSU’s department of theatre and film.
The center will contain a costume shop, scene shop and a digital production suite as well as lounge areas to promote collaboration, said Ron Shields, chair of the Department of Theatre and Film.
“From the beginning, when the university put forward the idea of a new building for the arts, immediately the concept of collaboration across the arts units came to the forefront,” Shields said. “This building epitomizes that dream and that ambition.”
Designed by Norwegian architectural firm Snohetta — which also designed the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City — the Wolfe Center has been attracting attention in architectural circles.
“You’re seeing it in magazines now and it’s been a truly exciting thing to watch,” Krakoff said. “It is a truly signature architectural building and I think it really represents some of the best global thinking in performing arts facilities.”
Artwork in the building will include an abstracted representation of an Ohio sunrise by contemporary Norwegian artist Anne Senstad and floor mosaics from ancient Antioch in Turkey, said Katerina Rüedi Ray, director of the School of Art.
“Every space and view in that building was purposefully done,” Krakoff said. “Nothing was by accident and you can tell when you just walk through it.”
The shape of the building — which appears to be rising out of the ground — was inspired by the region’s glacial history.
“The architect was fascinated by the way the glacial moraine had left behind rocks in the Northwest Ohio plains that are rising out of the ground,” Ray said. “The entire width of the façade will face sunset, so evenings in the Wolfe Center will be glorious just before the performances start.”