Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre Expansion

With a $10 million donation from J.T and Margaret Talkington, the Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre is undergoing expansion and renovations. Started on July 31, 2017, the construction for the renovated theatre is seeking to be completed by Mar. 11, 2019.

With the construction at the Texas Tech Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre, which is located at 2812 18th St. on campus, some people may wonder what to expect after the expansion is completed.

Whether it be the facilities it may provide or the opportunities for different performances, the addition of the Theatre and Dance Complex to the Maedgen Theatre could contribute to the campus in different ways.

Despite the expected completion date for the expansion being March 11, according to the Tech System Facilities Planning and Construction website, FP&C Vice Chancellor Billy Breedlove said the actual completion of the expansion will take place later.

“It’s probably going to be mid-April,” he said. “We’ve had, obviously, quite a bit of weather. We’ve had a lot of weather in the winter months, then we had the big snow that hit and of course a lot of wind conditions.”

In addition to complications, such as the weather conditions or the small construction area around the building, Breedlove said the Maedgen Theatre is a complicated building overall.

“This is a building built for the arts. This is not a standard building,” he said regarding how the building is meant for theatrical purposes. “We work closely with our contractor to try to catch up a little bit. They’re working seven days a week.” 

Working on the brick and stone outside the building, cleaning around the construction site and adding in the landscaping all are objectives Breedlove said are still left to complete.

“Inside, pretty much just the finishes,” Breedlove said regarding other construction components that need to be completed. “We are laying some floor coverings in there, we’re starting to paint. It’s really just wrapping that up and getting all the finishes completed.”

With the completion of the Theatre and Dance Complex addition, one aspect people may consider is how the expansion will be implemented to help Tech.

Noel Zahler, dean of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts, said the upcoming completion date for the Maedgen Theatre expansion will mark the completion of phase one.

“Phase one is a little over 50,000 square feet of the 74,500 square feet that the entire project encompasses,” he said. “With that comes the majority of space, specifically, that students will inhabit.”

A new black box theater, studio space, rehearsal space, design laboratory and lighting laboratory all are facilities Zahler said will result from the current expansion.

“There is the director’s suite,” he said regarding other new spaces. “For the first time, all of our theater faculty will be located in one place. There’s a suite of offices just for faculty on the second floor.”

An atrium named in recognition of the Helen Jones Foundation, a kitchen for catering, updated dressing rooms and a green room for student performers to meet with audience members are other components Zahler said would be available after the completion of phase one. 

He said the theater program will move into the theatre and Dance Complex in May and be ready for fall 2019 classes.

Emily Wilkinson, director for public art at FPC, said a 20-foot tall piece will also be made for the expansion of the Maedgen. The piece, which is expected to be placed in March, is complete but is being kept by the artist until construction is completed.

“The artists are David Dahlquist and Matt Niebuhr from Des Moines, Iowa. They have a group called RDG studio,” she said. “The artist concept was really to make this almost like a stage, and the public art be the curtains framing the stage.”

Regarding the aesthetic of the artwork, Wilkinson said the artists wanted to display the piece as a white structure during the day and as a red LED-lit structure at night, as they wanted the piece to look good during all hours of the day. Attracting the public to the new entrance of the expansion is one goal she said the art piece will be used to accomplish.

“It will be a really different piece from just a traditional sculpture,” she said. “You can walk through it, under it.”

Zahler said he is grateful for the support the project has received throughout its development.

“We’re also very excited because, as of the end of this week, requests for proposals for phase two will be received by Facilities Planning and Construction,” Zahler said.

Following the requests, which are due on Thursday, Feb. 28, Zahler said FPC will choose an architecture and construction company for phase two. Design and construction documents will be completed about six to eight months after selecting companies for the project.

With the current plans, Zahler said phase two construction should start in December.

“In phase two, we will see yet another expansion of the scene shop but also the creation of a costume shop, which will bring the present costume shop from Weeks Hall to the Theatre and Dance Complex,” he said. “So, we’re co-locating everything for theater and dance in this building.”

A dean’s suite on the second floor and a complete renovation of the Maedgen Theatre are the two main components Zahler said will result from phase two of the construction projects.

“It becomes then part of a much larger plan to create an art’s corridor on that side of campus,” he said. “We’re looking forward to building a new School of Music in the parking lot behind the library, which will face the Theatre and Dance Complex and allow us to really inhabit all of the performing arts in one area connected by a plaza.”

With the addition of the Theatre and Dance Complex underway and plans set for future construction, different people could be affected in a variety of ways.

Mark Charney, director of the Tech School of Theatre and Dance, said no classrooms, a small workshop and antiquated dressing rooms all are issues that exist due to the current state of the Maedgen Theatre. 

“Just in terms of space, I can’t think of a school that has needed it more,” he said regarding the Theatre and Dance Complex addition. “That’s not only for education, that’s for creative reasons. With high schools having better facilities than what we have, sometimes it’s harder to attract students.”

Retaining faculty and students, recruiting, rehearsing and educating all are tasks Charney said can be accomplished due to the theater’s expansion. In addition to bringing in people, he said there are other benefits to the facilities.

“We’re going to be able to seat around 230 people, if we want, based on the configurations we have,” he said. “The classrooms are going to have sprung floors, and that means that they’re going to be very safe for dancing, rehearsing.”

Other than the facilities being utilized for performances, Charney said the expansion could be helpful in terms of bringing faculty together in one building.

“The quality of our work and the commitment of our faculty and students has very little to do with the facilities,” Charney said. “We can do theater anywhere, but it will be nice to have facilities that works for and not against you.”

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