BGSU Magazine Summer 2009

A soaring beacon. A bridge to arts synergy.

Wolfe Center celebrates collaboration and creativity in the arts

As gusty spring breezes blasted through the Bowling Green campus in May, the forces of nature inspired the creators’ vision of the new Wolfe Center for the Arts. “The powerful elements that formed this region–the vast powers of shifting ice and undulating winds–will reflect their beauty and power as the Wolfe Center for the Arts emerges from the landscape,” noted architect Craig Dykers from Snøhetta.

Not only was Snøhetta charged with designing a building to house classes in theatre, music, film, digital arts and graphic design, but also to create a socially engaging facility where lively interaction and collaboration thrive. The resulting $40 million, 93,000 square-foot Wolfe Center for the Arts will feature an abundance of natural light and open, welcoming public areas as well as functional work spaces for students and faculty. Gently angled walls will be countered by a tall, vertical tower that will serve as a visual symbol of the collaborative arts on campus. The building will be the first to be completed in the USA by the renowned Norwegian architectural firm. Snøhetta is the recipient of the Mies van der Rohe Prize, Europe’s highest architectural honor, second only to the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Just as the building is uniquely designed to embrace creativity and encourage collaboration across campus, the ceremony to launch the center eschewed traditional shovel-and-hard-hat groundbreaking for an immersive “groundbuilding” ceremony where the Saddlemire Student Services Building used to stand.

Guests were treated to soaring music from the 60-piece BGSU Wind Symphony, walked among life-size plaster body casts constructed by Arts Village students, and were invited to sing the alma mater along with a 75-member choral ensemble before Dr. Katerina Rüedi Ray, director of the School of Art, said, “Today, you will see no shovels, no foundation stone and no mortar. Instead, we will build new ground, symbolically and literally. Students from the ceramics program have molded old ground–clay–into new ground–the Wolfe Center. Fired and glazed in our ceramic kilns, this new ground will be constructed in front of you.”

View photos from the Building Dreams Celebration Weekend.

Learn more about the vitality of arts to Ohio’s economy.