October 1, 2012

Cornell Begins Construction on Big Red Band Building

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Construction workers broke ground over Homecoming Weekend at the site of a new building that will soon be home to the Big Red Band. The space is set to open in late Spring 2013, according to University Architect Gilbert Delgado.

The new building will be located on the east side of Schoellkopf Field and will be a significant improvement from the band’s much smaller current home in the basement of Barton Hall, according to Jessica Reno ’13, drum major for the Big Red Band.

The University is still working to raise the $1 million needed to finance the project in full by its Spring 2013 opening, according to Delgado.

The University has raised about $575,000 in the last year, but is still short more than $400,000 in required funds, according to a University statement.

Still, Delgado said that the project will be completed regardless of whether the $1 million milestone is reached.

The University is required to have underwritten funds — money pledged to the project in the event that alternate fundraising efforts fail — before pursuing any new ventures, according to Delgado. He said that if the University falls short of $1 million, a Cornell alumnus has agreed to donate the balance.

But Reno said she is confident that the Big Red Band will be able to raise the remaining $400,000 through a series of fundraising efforts aimed at soliciting donations from band alumni. She said both current and former band members are excited about the new building.

“[Our alumni] help us out so much, from day-to-day things to more overarching things,” Reno said. “They are going to make it happen no matter what.”

David Fischell  ’75, M.S. ’78, Ph.D. ’80, a Big Red Band alumnus and a University trustee, also expressed confidence that band alumni will rally in order to guarantee the project is fully financed, according to a University statement. David Fischell and his wife, Sarah Thole Fischell ’78, donated money to the project after plans for other University buildings fell through during the financial crisis.

“We want to get as many Cornell band [alumni] as we can to march on the field with the Big Red Band next year when we dedicate the building during Homecoming Weekend,” Fischell said in the statement.

Delgado said that the new space will fit well in its location adjacent to the crescent-shaped stands that frame the eastern side of Schoellkopf Field.

“It is a wonderful compliment to the crescent. We’ll have a really terrific facility by next year,” he said.

Reno said that for the band’s nearly 250 members, Barton Hall does not provide “enough space at all.”

The room is also “not safe” to hold such a large number of students for rehearsal, according to Fischell. The new building should be able to accommodate at least 180 people safely, Fischell said in a University press release.

In addition to increased space, Delgado told The Sun that the new building will also have a higher ceiling and offer improved acoustics and sound quality for the band’s practices.

Various University officials, alumni and band members took part in the ground-breaking ceremony Sept. 22.

Reno added that she hopes a new home will bring the band, which she said has been an integral part of Cornell’s culture since the 1890s, closer together as a community.

“It’s really nice that we are finally going to get a home for a family,” Reno said.

Original Author: Tyler Alicea