Driving through downtown Blacksburg, it's hard to miss the massive construction project at the corner of Main Street and Alumni Mall, a five-story giant of gray stone and steel.
The building is a $94 million Center for the Arts that broke ground two years ago in June. It is set to open in late 2013. It will include a 1,260-seat performance hall designed for music, theater and dance, as well as the new Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology for multi-disciplinary research.
Associate Professor Jay Crone, head of the music department, has played an active role in the planning of the new center and its use in the music department.
"We've got faculty members on the building committee, meetings with the architects, meetings with the builders, we've consulted the whole way,” Crone said. “I'm still very involved with the process and have been since the beginning,”
Crone has been a part of planning since his appointment in 2007.
The need for a new facility like the center has been in discussion for almost 30 years, according to Cone. The dream is finally in fruition as Tech begins to invest more resources into creating an expansive arts program.
“There's priorities on campus for building, and there's only so much money to go around,” Crone said. “The University over the years has moved away from being a military and engineering school to being a more comprehensive land grant university.”
Ariana Colligan, a senior psychology major and a singer in Women's Choir, is also looking forward to the completion of the center and the addition of possible venues.
"I think it's a good thing that they're expanding on the music department because I really like the fact that Virginia Tech is so well-rounded. It gives so much opportunity to so many different majors even though it's considered an engineering college,” Colligan said.
Although she is graduating, she is happy for her fellow singers who will be able to use the more acoustically specialized performance hall rather than the older salons in Squires.
The center will not replace Squires for classes. Instead, it will be used as a performance hall for the larger orchestras and choirs, while the Squires salons will still be used for smaller groups like the chamber choir.