Cohen slated for renovations this summer
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 08:10
Cohen Auditorium renovations will begin this summer, upgrading the building’s aesthetics and technology to make the space more amenable to both its teaching and performance purposes.
The remodel plan thus far focuses on educational improvements to the facility, such as the installation of a new projector and lectern, which many professors use for large lecture classes in Cohen.
Most of these ideas were developed last semester by a faculty focus group composed of instructors who teach in Cohen, Lois Stanley, Director of University Space Management and Planning, said.
“While our priority is the teaching technology, we’re making sure that the changes in lighting and materials in the audio system do not impede, but improve, Cohen as a performance space,” Stanley said. “We recognize that Cohen is the largest space for audience shows and that won’t change.”
From LED lights to more handicap-accessible seating, the remodel will serve as a facelift to Cohen, which has not been updated since 1987, Stanley said. Renovations will also include the installation of a new heating system since the current appliance is malfunctioning, Cohen Auditorium Events Manager Mark Sullivan said.
Refurbishing audience seating in Cohen is a priority, as it is now damaged with torn upholstery and destroyed cushions.
“It seems like a minor trigger, but when you are changing the seats in a major space like this, it’ll take the space offline for a while and made us question what else we could do,” Stanley said. “It will look fresher when we’re done.”
Because construction will not begin for a few months, certain plans have not been finalized, Sullivan said. Discussions surrounding the structure of the stage have included a pending proposal to decrease the platform size and incorporate drapery to make it a more conventional performance space.
“It’s a pretty daunting project, but pretty exciting too,” he said. “I suspect that the demand will go up as other users see what the potential is.”
Although Stanley and Sullivan said that Cohen will retain its dual purpose as a teaching and theatrical space after the renovations, some students are skeptical that the proposed construction plan addresses the needs of a performance space, sophomore Nicholas Andre said.
“You can use an auditorium as a classroom, but not a classroom as an auditorium,” said Andre, a sound technician who has worked in Cohen. “I’m concerned they might not realize what they’re doing, or that they don’t care enough. If you’re not careful about what you do, you may overlook something a tech or sound person would know how to do.”
Stanley said she plans to solicit student input about the changes to guarantee that the renovations will meet the needs of all members of the Tufts community.
“If it were to be done well, then I think it could be really beneficial,” Andre said. “Renovation is a pretty awesome idea because, having worked in that space, it’s not optimal for what we need. It’s just my concern that everyone’s needs be met in the improvement of space on campus.”
Stanley expects that construction will conclude before matriculation next fall, but she has begun to arrange alternative spaces for orientation events and other early fall performances in case the project does not finish in time.
Summer programs that have taken place in Cohen in the past, such as the Magic Circle Theatre Camp for children, have already been notified to relocate this year, Sullivan said.
“It’s going to be a very tight package,” Sullivan said. “The scale of the project, it’s going to be tough, but to only do part of it doesn’t seem satisfactory.”