The final steel beam was placed on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center on Wednesday, April 25, in a ceremony marking the midway point for construction.
Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek joined philanthropist Natalie Haslam, for whom the center is named, students, faculty, and administrators in signing the twenty-foot steel beam before it was set over the building’s north entrance.
The $40 million project began in 2010 and the building will open to students in fall 2013.
“I am quite honored and humbled to be here in this capacity,” Natalie Haslam said. “Jim and I are very proud of the University of Tennessee. We’ve been hanging around here over sixty years.”
She noted the university’s journey to becoming a Top 25 institution.
“I hope a building like this will make that realization true,” she said.
Cheek said the project set the course for the School of Music’s bright future.
“The support of Jim and Natalie Haslam was critical to this. Today, we celebrate Natalie’s love for music, the arts, literature, and her university,” Cheek said.
Natalie and Jim Haslam and the Haslam Family Foundation gave UT $32.5 million, $10 million of which was designated to the School of Music. The donation made the new facility possible. The state of Tennessee allocated $30 million.
“The Haslam gift was transformational,” said Angela Batey, interim director of the School of Music and director of choral activities.
She noted that it will make a difference in recruiting talented musicians.
“They’ll walk in and see themselves on the stage, and they’ll say, ‘This is a place where I can hone my craft,'” Batey said.
The new school will be a boon for all departments and will help enhance graduate programs.
The building also will be a community asset, which all lovers of music and the arts will enjoy, Batey said.
The new center replaces a facility that was constructed in 1964 to accommodate 100 students. The School of Music now has 400 students.
The four-floor, 123,000-square-foot facility will include the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall, named for another donor, a new music library, rehearsal facilities for band, choral, opera, and orchestra programs, computer labs, a recording studio, forty performance studios/offices, and a variety of technology-enhanced classroom and rehearsal rooms.
The orchestral library will be named for Roger Stephens, the late director of the School of Music, who was a driving force in the planning for the facility for many years before his death in early 2011.
BarberMcMurry Architects and Blankenship and Partners designed the center and Johnson and Galyon is the contractor.
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