January 30, 2012

Construction on New Big Red Band Building Will Begin This Summer

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Correction appended

A committee of the Board of Trustees approved the most recent plans for the new building of the Big Red Marching Band in January. The design of the 4,400 square-foot building is set to be completed by spring, with construction to start in June 2012 and finish by the end of January 2013, according to Associate University Architect Andrew Magre ’91.

The building — which will be located adjacent to Schoellkopf Field — was designed by Baird Sampson Neuert, the same architecture firm that designed the Cornell Plantations Welcome Center. The new building will double the marching band’s practice space and provide better sound quality than its current space in Barton Hall, according to Magre.

“Though we’re doubling the [square-footage] of the marching band’s space, we’re also increasing the volume of the space, which will create a much better acoustical environment,” Magre said.

The new building will improve sound quality through the design of its walls and roof, according to University Architect Gilbert Delgado. Constructing angled walls will deflect sound and enhance the acoustics of the building, he said.

The design also contains a large door, similar to that of an airplane hangar or garage, which Magre said was designed to allow the inside of the building to become “a part of the parking lot tailgating activity.” During tailgate parties before games, the band will exit by marching through the parking lot and onto the field, according to plans provided by Magre.

“[The new building] engages and expands the legacy and traditions of tailgating, and provides the opportunity to create new traditions,” he said.

Susan Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services, described this aspect of the design as a combination of “indoor and outdoor space that could be very exciting and fun.”

The City of Ithaca’s Planning and Development Board, which saw a preliminary presentation of the building on Jan. 24, must still approve the building. On the same day, the Cornell Board of Trustees Buildings and Properties Com­mittee­­ approved the design.

The building will meet a minimum LEED silver rating, a benchmark standard of energy efficiency, according to Magre, who expressed confidence that the building may attain even higher levels of sustainability certification.

“Look at the Plantations Welcome Center,” Magre said. “We have the same architects involved in this building, and they’re real leaders in sustainable design.”

The Big Red Band has also been involved in the design process of its new practice space, according to the band’s head manager, Jennifer Goforth ’13.

“We really like how we’re going to have a lot more space, and it’s going to be more accessible to get to our uniforms,” Goforth said.

Although the band’s color guard reportedly felt neglected by the lack of space included for them in the design proposed last October, Goforth said that this has been remedied.

“[The color guard has] been provided with a place to practice. We’ve had a lot of dialogue with them, and their concerns have been taken into account,” she said.

The band’s current practice space, located in Barton Hall, is “woefully inadequate,” Delgado said. Magre echoed these sentiments and added that the band’s location in Barton has low ceilings and is half the area necessary for the full band to practice together.

“The current space is really crowded. It’s an old room and [it is] hard to fit everyone in,” Goforth said. “The new building will have more storage, be a lot more organized and the design is attuned to the acoustics of the practice space.”

The building will be entirely paid for with gifts from alumni and friends of the Big Red Band, said Anne DiGiacomo, a Univer­sity staff member responsible for fundraising for part of the project.

The fundraising campaign for the building began at last year’s homecoming with a gift from band alumnus David Fischell ’75, M.S. ’78, Ph.D. ’80, a member of the Board of Trustees, and his wife, Sarah Thole Fischell ’78, M.Eng. ’79, also a band alumna.

The band has raised about $375,000 so far towards the $1 million it needs for construction, according to DiGiacomo. She added that, based on her knowledge of the Big Red Band alumni, she is confident that the band will reach its fundraising goal.

“[The alumni] love the band and are proud to be alumni. They have a good relationship with the student band, and there’s a lot of good will,” DiGiacomo said. “They’ve all practiced in the building in Barton, which is inadequate in space, so the alumni are very behind the new building.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article included a headline that incorrectly stated the Big Red Band building will open this summer. In fact, as the article correctly stated, construction on the building will begin in the summer.

Original Author: Emma Court