New Wolfe Center puts BGSU, BG ‘on the map’

A large crowd gathered
Friday night for the opening of Bowling Green State University’s $41 million Wolfe Center for the Arts.
(Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)

Somebody call Google, they need to make sure they have Bowling Green on the map because that’s where the
university and city will be with the opening of the Wolfe Center for the Arts. PHOTO
GALLERY

The
new $41 million center, which opened to the public Friday, will put Bowling Green on the map, according
to both College President Mary Ellen Mazey and former university trustee David Bryan.
"That’s what everyone is saying," Bryan said. "This will really put Bowling Green on the
map for art."
"It will attract students from all over the country," Mazey said.
"This is a very lucky group of people who get to utilize this," said Fred Cohn, an art gallery
owner from Toledo and a good friend of Fritz and Mary Wolfe.
The Wolfes, for whom the center is named, made a $1.5 million donation that kick started the project
about six years ago.
Friday’s festivities, held in conjunction with the annual ArtsX event in the School of Art, started with
a lecture by Craig Dykers, a founder of Snohetta, the Norwegian architectural firm that designed the
center.
He said there were times when it looked like the project would stall out over issues of design and scope,
but someone always came through to get it moving again.
The 93,000-square-foot facility has two theaters, but just as important as the performing spaces, Dykers
said, are the backstage areas where so much of the learning takes place.
The building, Mazey said, was designed to foster that learning.
Dykers said that one of the aspects that influenced his firm’s decision to vie for the project was the
high percentage of BGSU students who were the first in their families to attend college.
"The people here really have a commitment to the growth of culture," Dykers said.

Ronnie Hall of
Perrysburg and his wife Harriet have a look at one of a few mosaic floor fragments from Antioch embedded
into the floor of the entrance way to the new Eva Marie Saint Theatre during the grand opening of the
Wolfe Center for the Arts.

Mary Wolfe said that the center proved to be "larger and more complicated than we first
conceived."
That was the result of the integration of spaces for the visual and musical arts as well as dance into
the theater building and the demands of new technology.
With a dance studio, choral rehearsal room, graphic design and digital art studios, the center
"brings all the arts together," she said. "It’s inspiring to have everything happening
here."
That creative interaction was evident as hundreds of participants and visitors in the ArtsX activities
flowed from the School of Art along the thoroughfare that runs through the Wolfe Center with the School
of Art on one end and the College of Musical Arts on the other.
Ryan Albrecht, a sophomore theater major, said he can’t wait to start classes in January in the building.
He hopes to work on the crew of the Donnell Theatre, the main hall in the center. That will be the
musical "Chicago" opening April 12.
The two theaters in University Hall "have a lot of history but weren’t modern enough to pull off the
theater we want to do now," Albrecht said.
The lighting, sound and staging capabilities in the Donnell Theater and the Eva Marie Saint studio
theater open up a world of theatrical possibilities.
Michael Ellison, will direct and assist with the choreography for "Chicago" and he’s ready to
employ all those possibilities. Ellison plans to transform the Donnell so that it has the feel and
intimacy of a vaudeville house. It’s an effect he’d never would have been able to pull off in University
Hall.
He declared the Department of Theatre and Film’s new home "breathtaking."
"What an incredible reality," he said. "So much space and so much light."
Megan Cassidy, a vocal education major, got a chance to test the acoustics in both the Marjorie Conrad
chorale room and in the Donnell Theatre as a member of the Collegiate Chorale, which performed as part
of Friday’s festivities. "It’s amazingly beautiful."
On the gospel number "Sail Away" she had a solo part, and her voice soared effortlessly to the
back rows of the Donnell among the first of many, many voices to ring throughout the Wolfe Center in
years to come.