Funding holdups delay lakeside Bienen building construction

Tom Meyer

Plans for a new Bienen School of Music building are on hold “indefinitely” as the project waits for funding.

The new building, which would have been located on the Lakefill south of Norris University Center, was announced in 2008, and the groundbreaking was slated for “late 2011” at the time. Susan Budinsky, project manager at Facilities Management, said plans for the new building have been delayed for the foreseeable future.

“We haven’t been given the go-ahead to send the project out to bid,” Budinsky said. “The documentation for the bid is almost complete, so we’re waiting for the green light.”

Budinsky said approval would have to come from senior administration officials and trustees.

The University selected Chicago-based Goettsch Partners to design the building in 2008 following a competition among over 25 architectural firms. A representative at Goettsch referred requests for comment to Facilities Management.

Now, Budinsky said, there is no clear timetable for when work will begin on the building.

“I would love to have it as soon as possible,” she said. “It’s going to be a beautiful building.”

However, it remains unlikely that the project will begin soon. While Budinsky did not know how much the estimated costs for the building were, she said the problem is that funding is not yet available for construction.

Plans for the building include dozens of new practice rooms, in addition to more administrative offices, classrooms, rehearsal and performance venues and an atrium, according to the Bienen website. Budinsky also said the fifth floor of the building would house more School of Communication facilities.

Bienen sophomore Ray Stuart said the added rooms would be a welcome addition to Bienen.

“There’s always a shortage of practice rooms,” Stuart said. “When you’re just trying to warm up for vocal solos or something, there’s never enough.”

Still, Stuart said she’s not surprised the plan is stalled due to funding problems.

“As music majors, we just know that there’s not the money,” Stuart said. “We’re going into that profession, so we’re just kind of used to it.”

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