The historic Art Center, which housed Reynolds Gallery, will soon become a hub for Westmont’s burgeoning music department when the college finishes renovating the building in June 2011. The art department moved to Adams Center for the Visual Arts this fall, freeing up the two-story structure to provide office and practice space for the music department’s five full-time professors and 26 adjunct instructors. Various gifts to the college are funding the project.
Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship (above right), says Westmont is committed to the long-term vision for a strong music program. “Students have been extremely accommodating and understanding for years,” he says. “The quality of the program was never defined by the facilities but by the people. Soon we can say that it’s defined by the people and enhanced by the facilities.”
Shasberger, who’s been teaching at Westmont since 2005, has helped increase the number of music majors six-fold, to 60.
Though the college still has long-range plans to construct a chapel and humanities building, which will house the music pro-gram, it became imperative to provide an interim solution for the department. “We’re remodeling the Art Center building so it can be used until new facilities are built,” says Randy Jones, director of campus planning (above, left). “We’re still considering which projects will be included in the next phase of the Master Plan, taking into consideration need and funding.” Under the conditions of the county-approved plan, Westmont must wait at least five years before construct-ing any new buildings on campus.
“What we’re accomplishing with this building is creating the practice spaces we would have had in the new chapel,” Shasberger says. “We also needed to bring the music faculty together so we can work more cohesively, and I think we are doing that in a great way with this design.”
The music department has been spread out with offices and practice spaces in Porter and Hubbard Halls. The new music building will feature eight office studios, 12 practice rooms, a recording studio, a composition lab and a reception area.
When the Art Center opened in January 1986, architects had restored the historic Deane School building to preserve its original exterior appearance. The old Deane School Junior Dormitory is one of several buildings on the lower part of campus that originally belonged to the Deane School for Boys, which operated from 1912 to 1933. The county of Santa Barbara declared them historic landmarks in 1980.
“We’re improving some of the later additions to the building such as bringing the windows in character with the historic parts of the structure,” says Jones, whose plan has already received the approval of the county’s historic landmarks advisory commission.
“The other benefit of relocating the music department here is that it allows us to improve and expand the facilities for the theater and biology departments as well,” Jones says.
The music rehearsal rooms, composing area and faculty offices in Hubbard Hall will be transformed into biology labs, while the theater department gains rehearsal and office space in Porter Hall. Construction for those projects is expected to be complete before classes begin in fall 2011.
In the future, Jones says crews will construct a black-box theater behind Porter Theatre that will host simpler, more intimate performances by the college’s theater arts department.