Hop to see major renovations

by Laura Weiss | 11/12/13 7:41pm

The College will renovate the Hopkins Center in the near future, potentially adding three performance or spaces and converting Alumni Hall to a performance space. The redesigned facility aims to allow easier navigation and visibility of the arts facilities.

Boora Architects, based in Portland, Ore., began creating a conceptual design for in November 2012 renovations based on feedback from staff, faculty and students. Project leaders must now decide the scope of the project, Interim Vice Provost Lindsay Whaley said.

“This really stems back to a decade-long discussion about some of the real opportunities about the arts at Dartmouth and buildings connected to arts activities,” he said. “It’s really been a long conversation about where are we and where do we want to go.”

The renovations emphasize the arts’ integral role in the College’s academic mission, Whaley said. The Hopkins Center, constructed over 50 years ago, was avant-garde at the time, a feeling that the College aims to recapture with the renovations.

The recent opening of the Black Family Visual Arts Center offered more flexibility to investigate renovation, since two academic departments were moved out of the Hop.

The project offers the chance to incorporate all of the Hop’s varying functions into one cohesive facility.

“It has been a very rich exploration about how to serve all of those rich mutual uses and needs for the campus,” said Michael Tingley, the Boora partner in charge of the project. “They sometimes conflict with one another so it’s taken a lot of work to balance out all of those different things and come up with solutions that can balance all of those difference uses.”

As part of the proposed renovations, a new theater with a 300 person capacity will be added.

Alumni Hall may also be converted into a flexible performance space, focused on music, dance and small theatrical productions. Two large multidisciplinary rehearsal and performance studios, seating up to 100 people, may also be added.

The remodel would integrate the Hop with the surrounding arts buildings and eliminate confusion in facility navigation by changing the entryway structures, including making Paddock Music Library visible from the main entry level.

“The existing building has really got one front door which faces the Dartmouth Green,” Tingley said. “With the addition of the Black Family Visual Arts Center and the new cafe arts plaza to the east of the Hop, we’re going to create a new significant entry to the Hop that faces onto the spaces, so you’ll be able to come out the door of the Hop and go right across the plaza to the door of the Black Family Visual Arts Center.”

The proposed renovations would include better stair and elevator connections, and the ceramics workshop will be moved closer to the Hop’s other studios.

Tingley said the renovations would create additional space for visitors to hold events without disrupting academic functions.

The renovation will aim to update the half-century-old systems and upgrade its sustainability, while preserving its multifunctionality, Whaley said.

The firm hopes to cut the building’s energy consumption by 60 percent and make the Hop one of the better-performing buildings on campus, which would also help Dartmouth reach its goals for resource consumption and energy use on campus, Tingley said.

“All that will make it a more comfortable building at the same time as well,” Tingley said.

Erin Abraham ’14, who rehearses in the Hop with the Glee Club, expressed support for the idea of improving the navigability of the Hop. She said that the “labyrinth” of rooms in the basement can make rooms difficult to find, particularly for freshmen, and that the rooms are not well sound-proofed.

Katie Schultz ’16 added that the building is “somewhat confusing,” and that when she works at her job in the Strauss Gallery, she often helps visitors who cannot find the performance space that they are looking for.

One of the renovation’s biggest undertakings is the attempt to bring a dance studio and program into the Hop, but Tingley said that the team is not confident the Hop’s space and the College’s budget will allow for this.

One potential solution would be dividing the project into two parts, saving the construction of a small recital hall and new dance studio, as well as the expansion of some administrative offices, for future projects.

Schultz, a member of Sugarplum and Sheba dance groups, said that the only place truly dedicated to dance is the studio in the gym, which makes it difficult to get rehearsal space.

“I think if they would add another dance-focused space it would be fantastic especially if student-run groups could gain access to it,” she said.

There is currently no timeline for renovations at this stage in the process.

The renovations of the Hop are planned to coincide with the renovation and expansion of the Hood.

“Partly that’s because we need to make a determination for the scope of the project and partly it needs to be coordinated with some other things on campus,” Whaley said.