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Founders Auditorium upgrades get green light

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Renovations are set to begin in spring 2010.

Xenia Martinez
Staff Writer

Founders Auditorium, the largest place for convocations and concerts on campus and also perhaps the most in need of architectural upgrades will finally get a facelift beginning this spring.

The University has committed $2.5 million to the renovation and another $1.75 million is expected through donations.

The auditorium opened in 1926.

The plan will involve upgrading the stage and auditorium floor, wood bases and light fixtures.

To enhance the architectural character of the auditorium, soffits will be added above the windows with operable wood shutters in front of the existing windows.

This will help continue the ceiling of architecture onto walls and add a dramatic play of light to the interior of the room.

“We are planning and trying to make sure there is the right amount of space and equipment for the University,” said Monisha Adnani, director of performing arts design for PMSM Architects.

The stage apron will be replaced with a new one that will extend to increase the performance area.

The existing stairs will be demolished and rebuilt, and the stairs leading from the right side of the auditorium to the stage will be replaced with a chairlift.

The auditorium does not currently have any entrance vestibules, which means the audience must access it from the hallway.

This problem has led to the proposal to relocate and redesign the entrance doors and to enhance the auditorium’s entrance from the hallway.

A vestibule will be created and the control booth will be relocated to the main level, which makes it a preferable location for the audio, visual and lighting equipment.

“We usually have speakers and want to hold concerts where sound is clean.” said Reed Gratz, professor of music.”We don’t want to hear the air conditioner while people are performing a solo or a speaker is speaking.”

The seating in the auditorium will also be upgraded in order to comply with the American Disabilities Act.

At the moment the outdated theatre makes it hard for just about anyone to get in and out of its tight rows and close chairs.

There will also be a reinstallation of existing rigging, new installation of stage lighting, a new stage curtain, projector screen and masking curtain.

“The University needs something to be proud of, Monisha has really provided us with the space so that we as an institution can be proud.”

“We will be able to show the progress to parents at orientation, musical concerts, comedian presentations, and speakers,” Executive Director Chip West said. The goal is to finish this project in five months.

“I am 98 percent thrilled because the University is stepping up and doing this, but the other 2 percent is hoping it all goes well,” Gratz said.”When I first saw this place it was in 1977, and to see this dramatic change it will be amazing. This is the center of diversity here on campus.”

Construction will begin in March 2010 and will be expected to open and in use in August of 2010.

Xenia Martinez can be reached at

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