And So It Begins: Groundbreaking on SLPC

NEC Marks Official Start of Construction with Celebratory Ground-breaking Ceremony

Transformative Student Life and Performance Center to Open 2017

Conservatory Board Members, Donors, Officials, Students, Faculty, and Staff Gather for Musical Ceremony at St. Botolph Street Construction Site

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Celebrating the start of construction on its Student Life and Performance Center (SLPC), New England Conservatory hosted a joyful groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday on the construction site at 241 St. Botolph Street in Boston. Board members, donors, faculty, staff, students, government and arts leaders, gathered on the current parking lot to lift symbolic shovelfuls of sand. There were speeches that paid tribute to the many people who had supported the project from its inception. And NEC brass and jazz students performed appropriately festive musical selections.

The first new construction at NEC since 1959, the $85 million SLPC is scheduled to open in 2017, to coincide with the Conservatory’s 150th anniversary. It will house a new residence hall with 250 beds, a two-level library for audio and print resources, a new dining commons, a black box opera studio, large orchestra rehearsal space with acoustics mimicking Jordan Hall, and a small ensemble room with recording studio suited to jazz and contemporary improvisation.

Designed by Ann Beha Architects with Gensler as Associate Architect, the project will be built by Tishman Construction, an AECOM Company. Beha’s firm, which is headquartered in Boston, also steered the restoration of NEC’s historic Jordan Hall in 1994–1995, receiving numerous awards for historic preservation and illumination. Tishman previously executed the $21 million exterior renovations of the Conservatory’s four buildings in 2009–2010, winning numerous awards for historic preservation and green initiatives.

Funding the project through a combination of private philanthropy and financing, the Conservatory has raised more than $60 million in donations to date. Trustee Board Chair, Kennett F. Burnes, who presided over the groundbreaking, credited the “extraordinary” support of Board members, alumni, and others who are helping the Conservatory meet its fundraising goal.

“The Student Life and Performance Center will transform the life of NEC students, faculty, staff, and the community,” Burnes said. “It will reflect and augment the Conservatory’s eminence in Boston and in the world of music education and performance.”

Along with its state of the art venues and facilities, the SLPC will also fill a more mundane gap—that is, spaces where students can just hang out. “When I was a student back in the 1980’s, if we needed to find someone, we either left a note taped to Beethoven (the statue in the Jordan Hall building) or hung out on the steps of Jordan Hall, hoping, by chance, our paths would cross,” recalled Trustee Deborah Elfers ’82 in her remarks. “I can’t imagine what it will be like for students and faculty to have gathering spaces—for the first time!—and how that will enable the spontaneous collaboration between different musical specialties, so necessary for a musician’s evolution…It’s just this collaborative environment that makes NEC stand out from the rest—it’s what we have become known for.”

For further information on the SLPC, check the NEC Website here

In photo L to R: Overseer Hope Baker, architect Ann Beha, Trustees Thomas Blumenthal, Wendy Shattuck, Michael Thonis, Deborah Elfers; Board Chair Kennett F. Burnes; Overseer Helen Powell; President Tony Woodcock; Life Trustee Steven Friedlaender. Photo by Pierce Harmon

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