BPAC renovations beginning to show


by Peter Kaspari

Nearly six months after construction began on the addition and renovation the Blank Performing Arts Center (BPAC), students, faculty and staff in the Department of Theatre are starting to see the hard work pay off.

Although the weather has been cold and snowy, it has not had any major effects on the construction.

“It seems as though the construction is about on schedule, so in terms of how far along it is, the target date for having it finished is toward the end of June,” said Tom Woldt, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre. “I think there have been a few setbacks having to do with weather, but we have the shell of a building up, which makes it easier for things to get done inside during the snow and cold.”

Besides the exterior work, much work in the existing portion of the BPAC has been completed as well.

“We had a new lighting system installed in Pote Theatre, and we had new seats and carpeting installed, which includes new access points for handicapped patrons,” Woldt said. “If one walks into Pote Theatre, it’s a brand-new place.”

With these changes in place, Woldt said this will allow the spring opera, as well as Theater Simpson’s performance of Eurydice, to take place in Pote.

Despite this, Woldt said there is still much work to be done.

“You have to get in not only the internal walls and floors, but the really intricate stuff like electrical wiring, plumbing, light switches, computers and communications, and all the decorative things,” Woldt said. “There’s quite a lot left to be done, but from what we are able to determine, it seems like they are on schedule for a June completion.”

In the meantime, the theatre department has had to adapt to accommodate all of the construction.

“It’s been necessary for us to find places to rehearse outside of this building, so we’ve worked quite a bit more with the conferences office and some of the building managers around campus to find places where we can rehearse,” Woldt said. “But we’re keeping our eyes on the prize, which is to think about what it’s going to be like when it’s finished.”

Students who live next to the addition also have had to deal with complications.

“It’s frustrating not being able to cut across the building for class, and the runoff makes it difficult because you can’t walk without hitting mud puddles,” junior and Weinman resident Rory Hennessy said. “And it makes parking difficult too because the construction workers take up the spots.”

Junior theatre major Meghan Vosberg said the renovations will positively impact Theatre Simpson students.

“I’m looking forward to the new classrooms because we’ve only been using one classroom and the lobby for classes,” Vosberg said. “It’ll be great using all the new technical equipment in the classrooms.”

Woldt said that although there is much construction going on, that shouldn’t discourage people from attending the performances.

“I hope that people will not stay away because they think the building is shut down,” Woldt said. “Our offices are still functioning, we’re still offering all of our classes, and we’ll have these three productions up and running in what will look like a brand-new theatre.”