Aug 282008
Authors: Trevor Simonton

After over fifteen years of development and planning, Colorado State University’s School of the Arts has finally found a new home.

This semester marks the first time in CSU’s history that the departments of music, theatre, and dance are all in the same building – and a $50 million building at that.

“This project has been in development for many, many years,” said Jennifer Clary, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator for the School of Arts.

Although the official ribbon cutting is yet to come, the newly renovated University Center for the Arts — located at 1400 Remington, across the street from the flower garden – has opened its doors and is currently hosting performance art classes.

The building was acquired by CSU back in 1995, after Fort Collins High School moved out.

Renovations of the old high school began shortly thereafter, but were cut short when state funding was reduced in 2002.

“There was literally wiring and asbestos hanging from the ceilings when we had to stop construction, and basically seal off the building,” Clary said.

Over the next several years, the majority of the building was in disrepair and unusable, until 2006, when the Griffin Concert Hall was finished with donations from the Griffin family.

A large donation from the Bohemian foundation and a vote to increase student fees in January of 2007 gave the department what it needed to finish the job.

The new facility boasts over 330 thousand square feet of space, which consist of three-dozen soundproofed rehearsal rooms for music students — three times what existed in the old music building, three large acting labs for theatre students and three large dance studios.

Clary said that before the move, the dance students definitely had it the worst.

She said that over the last twenty years, they have been moved from Ammons Hall, to Johnson, and before the UCA, to General Services – where they shared building space with radioactive research materials.

“People would come to see performances and were welcomed by those radioactive warning symbols on big yellow signs,” Clary said.

Now these students will be rehearsing and performing on one of only two dance stages in Colorado that were built exclusively for dance. Clary said that although many similar stages exist, most are built for multipurpose performances.

Not yet open are two museums that will also call the UCA home – an art museum and a museum of design and merchandising. Both will be opening in the coming April, after all the fragile artwork is properly acclimatized in a secure location – as is required practice for any art museum.

Also to be left unveiled until later in the year is the world famous Casavant Freres Organ, valued at more than $750,000. The former music building was home to this renowned instrument for almost forty years, and moving it was no easy task.

“A group of tuners and builders came in from all over the country and Europe to make sure that the organ’s sounds would be unaffected by the move – we were all very nervous,” Clary said.

The new home of the organ is on the second floor of the UCA – in a room that featured bricked off windows while it was still part of the high school.

With the move coming to completion — the bricks are off the window, and the organ shines and sings brilliantly.

Though it is in working order for practices, it will not be revealed in concert until the tuners come back for a check up at the end of the semester. Its debut performance in the new location is scheduled for February.

Official ribbon cutting will be October 16, as well as an open house to show off the work.

Staff writer Trevor Simonton can be reached at

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