Students within in the College of Visual and Performing Arts are singing, dancing and playing to a new tune this semester. With the opening of their new home on Tuesday, Jan. 16, the School of Music/Performing Arts Center (SOMPAC), students can now utilize a facility that, according to President Madeline Wing Adler, is every bit of “state of the art.”Located behind the Bull Center at West Rosedale and High Streets, “neo-swope,” according to first-year student Christina McHugh, not only has greater number of practice rooms than Swope Hall, but it contains technologically advanced equipment for all of the arts majors to use. For instance, there are, according to President Adler, better recording devices, speaker systems and lastly, an abundance of Steinway pianos.
According to second year student Andrew McLaughlin, there are Steinway pianos in “almost every room.” This is due to the fact that the College of Visual and Performing Arts has just become a Steinway School of Music, joining the ranks of 64 other schools in the nation.
However, this process of completing, building, funding and designing was not a short-lived one. According to President Adler, the process in its entirety was stretched across the duration of approximately seven years.
“I’ve been in the process since the beginning,” President Adler said.
One of the initial steps to initiating the construction of SOMPAC dealt with finances. According to President Adler, she went before the Board of Governors and Governor Tom Ridge to ask if they would match West Chester University’s imminent raised funds. With the avail of alumni, friends and affiliations of WCU, accomplishing the fiscal agenda was made possible.
Once that was in order, President Adler’s method of “distributive leadership” was put into effect. From there, the tasks proceeded down the chain even into the hands of the students in that they were surveyed as to what they were looking for in a facility.
“Everyone who had an interest in the building [took part],” President Adler said.
Now that all of the red tape has been cut, some students are learning to acclimate themselves to the building.
“The first day was a little confusing; however, everyone loves it now,” McLaughlin said.
Although there was confusion for some students in that the building’s design is “impeded by a lot of stairs,” according to first year Dustin Seyfert, the building “feels like home.”
What is particularly notable about this piece of architecture is that, according to President Adler, not only is it “aesthetically appealing” and “technologically cutting-edge,” it is also “environmentally friendly.” For instance, the floors are made out of bamboo, for which there is an abundance, according to President Adler.
Another important aspect to this building is that it comprises not only accessibility, but variety as well.
According to first-year student Daniel Pardo, there is actually a music library in the building in addition to a small recital room for lectures and performances. Particularly about this three-story building is that in addition to housing fine equipment, it is actually built to be acoustically sound and conducive to the needs of the students.
“The walls are soundproof, so it’s much easier to hear yourself practicing without other sound intrusions,” Seyfert said.
Also, other internal accommodations were made in order house a better learning environment.
According to Seyfert, “The classrooms are a bit smaller, forcing smaller class sizes and thus more attentive and individual instruction.”
Even though the building is quite usable now, according to McHugh, some finishing touches are needed such as the installations of stereos and clocks. Also, according to McHugh, the doors beep from time to time; she said Dr. Timothy Blair, the dean of the College of Visual/Performing Arts, is working to amend that and other issues with the building thus far. Blair, however, was unavailable for comment.
Nonetheless, the maintenance of the building, according to Adler, is a crucial aspect. She is concerned about the upholding of its appearance and that everyone will do his or her part in order to maintain it. Nonetheless, she states that her “fears are not warranted” in regards to the proper care for the building.
The building’s technological advances in the aforementioned are only a preview of what the building actually contains. Moreover, to further enhance the building, according to McLaughlin, a keycard access has been installed. This is not only for security purposes, but to ensure the upholding of the building.
Nevertheless, as SOMPAC makes its impression to West Chester University in “creating a wonderful environment to stimulate their art,” according to President Adler, the WCU music community can now have a “building that matches the quality of the program.