Construction of the new Plaster Auditorium is projected to finish Sept. 1, 2019, just days before the first CCA.
Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said the construction has been mostly free of setbacks. The projected completion date has not changed since the college broke ground on the new construction in August 2018.
“We haven’t planned anything in there for September 1,” Péwé said. “But it should be done. Of course, there are always setbacks and issues, but nothing that we haven’t be able to deal with.”
Péwé said Markel Auditorium and Howard Music Hall have both been heavily used for events during the auditorium’s reconstruction.
“This will allow us to take some of the pressure off of Markel,” Péwé said. “When we have jazz events, we can put them in Plaster. That way, theater will have more opportunity. We won’t have to do one or the other.”
The Dow Hotel has seen an increase in reservations for the Searle Center since the beginning of construction on Plaster. During 2017, Plaster, formerly known as Phillips Auditorium, was used 150 different times for everything ranging from sorority recruitment events to athletic team presentations. Director of Hospitality Operations for the Dow Hotel Aaron Tracey said not having Phillips Auditorium available has increased the workload for the hotel staff.
“Phillips was very helpful and convenient because it was already set up for a lecture presentation,” Tracey said. “Now, we don’t have an auditorium where people can sit down and listen. What we have to do is set up chairs for that presentation; we have to set up a projector for that presentation.”
The completion of Plaster Auditorium will give the hotel some breathing room when they schedule events.
“We are definitely looking forward to having Plaster Auditorium completed so that CCAs and large lectures for the college can be done without any of our setup,” Tracey said.
Executive Director of Administrative Affairs Tim Wells said Tracey and his staff have handled the additional workload quite well and said he looks forward to the completion of the project.
“With the completion of this project, we’re anticipating many more requests for the space,” Wells said in an email. “Searle may not have been able to accommodate all of the needs that Phillips Auditorium formerly met; however, we are all excited for this project’s completion and are already anticipating how it can best be used in supporting the College and its mission.”