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May 24, 2011

Logan Center leaves fate of current arts spaces up in air

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Now that the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library has opened, the next big-ticket item on the U of C’s construction agenda is the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (LCA), slated to open for classes next spring. The details of the new space have artists on campus abuzz.

Bill Michel (A.B. ’92, M.B.A. ’08), executive director of the LCA, said that construction is on budget and on schedule. Michel said that the performance halls and the center’s café will open in the fall of 2012.

The $114 million building is financed in part by the University and in part by alumni donations spurred by the Logan family’s $35 million contribution, according to Michel.

The future of existing art buildings, such as Midway Studios at East 60th Street and South Ingleside Avenue, is uncertain.

“In general, it’s my hope that much of the space that’s being vacated will still be available for arts use,” Michel said.

Michel said that University administrators were undecided about the fate of Midway Studios, but that he hoped the building would still be used for some artistic purpose.

Much of the arts activity that is now scattered across campus will occur in the Logan Arts Center. According to Michel, the Logan Center will host 90 percent of visual arts and theater, as well as offering new music practice spaces and a cinema.

“The building will be welcoming to the entire University community,” Michel said. He added that multiple student lounges will be distributed throughout the building to ensure that the building is not simply a center of teaching but an integral part of student life.

Michel said that he hopes the building will foster artistic collaboration.

“We’ve paid close attention both to our architects and faculty and staff about how you can have multiple artistic media on one floor,” Michel said.

According to Michel, there will be a digital media center in the basement of the building that will provide editing tools, different kinds of equipment, and computers with special software. All different disciplines will be able to use these resources, and this unity, Michel hopes, will “both support and define the digital media center.”

Several arts organizations have expressed enthusiasm about the new arts center.

“Generally, we’re very excited about it,” said second-year Adrienne Swan, current events coordinator and incoming director of Festival of the Arts (FOTA).

Swan said the LCA solves some problems for artists on campus. “It’s an issue of where we can find materials, where [artists] can exhibit,” she said, adding that Midway Studios is not available to all students.

Swan added that while her organization had made no plans to work with the Logan Center, she saw it as filling a need for a centralized art space that is open to everyone, not only people in arts classes.

“This is going to make things so much better for anyone who wants to make things in the undergraduate student body,” she said.

University Theater (UT) already has plans to move into the LCA. UT will move its entire programming to the LCA, including two rooms the program occupies in the Reynolds Club, along with classroom space they use in collaboration with Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS), according to UT committee chair Sarah Collonge.

Collonge sees many benefits to UT’s move to the Logan Center, including the proximity to other arts organizations.

“I think it will create a really healthy environment for collaboration and for Fire Escape Films and DOVA (Department of Visual Arts) offices,” she said. “The biggest point will be that we’ll be part of a spatially-realized artistic community.”

UT is planning to inaugurate their new spaces next spring with their quarterly 24-Hour Play Festival and the play An Actor Prepares by Michle Maher, among other things.

There are already plans for outside performances to occur. “Thanks to the support of one of our alumni we’ll have a cabaret series” in the performance penthouse, Michel said.

One of the namesakes of the center, David Logan (A.B. ’39, J.D. ’41), who broke ground on the new center last spring, passed away earlier this year.

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