Redefining the Classroom

History of the LSSU Arts Center

In the past, cultural events in the Eastern Upper Peninsula have been hampered by the lack of proper facilities. In the same regard, the students of Lake Superior State University have needed better access to the cultural opportunities that are part of a well-rounded education and parcel of a well-rounded individual.

Through the years, and by necessity, the arts have been housed in various locations across campus. The current facilities are simply inadequate to meet the needs of our student body or those of a region hungry for more cultural programs and events. Fort Brady's former jail is the music rehearsal and practice hall. The University's fine arts academy is housed in Brown Hall, the former headquarters for the fort. Neither building has been, nor can be, fully adapted for teaching the performing or visual arts.

The Arts Center project was initiated several years ago, proposed to the state legislature, and authorized under Public Act 205 of 1986. The Department of Management and Budget subsequently approved the program statement in May 1987, followed by an allocation by the Joint Capital Outlay Subcommittee for schematic planning in November 1987. While the project went unfunded by the State for several years, the need for the facility has grown.

In 1997, a committee was established to consider the scope of the project. Area community interests as well as University interests were included in the project definition. A needs assessment was conducted, an architect was retained to assist in development of the program statement and schematics, and budgets for construction of the facility, as well as initial operating costs, were established.

In December 1999, the State approved the $15.3 million needed for construction of the facility; the State providing more than half of the funds and the University, through private sources, financing the balance.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Arts Center was held on July 23, 2001.

From July 2001 through January 2002, many meetings took place, the focus of which was through value engineering issues, complete the bid documents and discuss the appropriateness and timeliness of going out for bid.

Due to the abnormally high bids received, on February 19, 2002 a meeting was called to regroup. The outcome was an emphasis on the commitment of the University to construct the project, and the absolute necessity to maintain the project program statement, as submitted to, and approved by, the State of Michigan. An option to use a newly created existing facility as a model for the new building was adopted thus saving time in planning while staying the original concept of the building.

In March, a revision to the architectural plan took place. In May, the project team met with the State of Michigan to update progress and budget and to fine tune the re- bid effort. The State's reaction was very favorable.

The schedule as outlined and presented to the State is as follows:
June 3, 2002Print and distribute review sets
June 12, 2002Receive review comments at the architect
June 19, 2002Send final bid documents to the printer
June 24, 2002Out for bids
July 18, 2002Bids due at Lake Superior State University
August 6, 2002Bid review complete/forward bid tabs to State

The revisions to the project have in no way comprised the academic integrity of the original program as developed and approved in 1999. While the design revision, because of budget constraints, has lost some of the architectural statement, the functionality and flexibility are not reduced. The main auditorium is reduced in scope from approximately 900 seats to approximately 700 seats with the elimination of the balcony. Additionally, the stage had to be changed from a fully rigged stage to an end stage (removal of the fly-loft), yet the quality of the venue from both an academic and an artistic perspective have not been compromised and in fact remain very high.

It is at this time anticipated that construction will begin in late summer 2002 with a projected occupancy date of fall 2004.

Project History | Drawings/Floorplans | Groundbreaking