Expansion of the Hopkins Center to provide improved art facilities
Work on the building will begin at the end of 2022.
With the announcement on February 10 of the College’s plans for a $ 75 million expansion and renovation at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, community members can expect improved rehearsal and performance areas, improved gathering places, and updated entry.
The College first considered expanding Hop “10 or 15 years ago,” with the goal of bringing all artistic disciplines together under one roof, said Hop director Mary Lou Aleskie. To respond to the art scene – which Aleskie said was “overtaking” the original Hop building – the College first built the Black Family Visual Arts Center in 2012, then completed renovations to the Hood Museum of Art in 2019. Now that those projects are complete, the college is making Project Hop a reality, Aleskie said.
The college currently plans to begin work on the building in late 2022, according to Aleskie, with the exact schedule to be ironed out in late fall. Dartmouth’s collaboration with Snøhetta, the Norwegian architectural firm that will oversee the expansion, is currently in “its early stages,” she said. The COVID-19 pandemic did not impact the project schedule.
Walter Cunningham, director of Hop’s Contemporary Pop Ensembles, said the college had narrowed its design plans to two options. Although he and other Hop directors have not been directly involved in the planning so far, he said he believes their contribution has been taken into account. Cunningham participated in the initial roundtable of artistic leaders who met during the early planning stages of the Hop’s renovation over a decade ago, and now that the project has resurfaced, he plans to get involved. again in the planning process.
Cunningham said he was optimistic that the Hop project will focus on the need for more rehearsal space. To cope with the current shortage, he resorted to rehearsals in his office, the building’s garage, the professors’ room and the alumni room, the latter of which he described as “acoustically dead.”
Cunningham explained that since there is no permanently equipped space for the performance, he constantly faces the “daunting” task of installing sound systems in temporary spaces. This process can take a full day, he said. As a result, he noted that “a lot of performance does not happen due to the requirements to achieve it.”
He said he hopes the project will establish a space that he is permanently equipped for recording.
Aleskie said the expansion seeks to “maintain the integrated nature of how the arts work and… deliver it in a contemporary way that includes 21st century technologies and adaptability.”
She said the project will strive to bridge the “separation between audience and performers” through a “hybrid experience”.
Environmental impact will play a role in the design process, Aleskie said, noting in particular technologies such as digital ticketing and LED lighting. Collaboration with Snøhetta – a company “committed to careful analysis of the environmental and social effects of every phase of a project,” according to its website – allows the College to create expansion with impact in mind, said Aleskie .
The project has so far been well received by the Hop student community.
Noah Campbell ’21, both a student artist and an employee of Hop, said the college’s announcement created “a lot of excitement” among students because the Hop not only serves as a “hub” for the arts, but also social space, study space and the home of the Hinman Mail Center.
Polly Chesnokova ’24, who plans to specialize in film, is also optimistic about the impact of the project.
“The renovation of Snøhetta is a sign of the administration’s support for the arts on campus, and I’m delighted to see it in action,” she said. “Art is an inherently collaborative process, so it’s crucial for students and faculty to have an accessible space to produce and experience it. “
Cunningham added that he hopes the expansion and renovation will improve accessibility and “remove the barrier to entry” that can hamper student participation in the arts.
Campbell noted that Hop’s current design can feel “stiff,” which he said can be “overwhelming for people who really just want to pick up guitars and sing or participate in any sort of artistic expression in a more setting. relaxed”.
For Campbell, the uncertainty brought by COVID-19 has only reinforced the importance of the arts. The project, he said, seeks to “make the arts a part of [the] new normal that we are starting to cultivate.