Renovation of the Roble Gym, currently under construction, will feature new and improved facilities for the arts. The $28 million makeover aims to upgrade dance studios and rehearsal spaces, implement a new theater in the Roble Gym space and incorporate a drop-in creative space–an “arts gym”–where non-arts majors can explore their artistic creativity.
According to Mark Bonino, project manager in the Stanford Department of Project Management, the new theater is the most significant change to the building, where an existing gymnasium is being converted to a theater with supporting spaces.
“An open space will be available for movement or drama arts while workshop and rooms [will] provide other areas for students who are not in one of the art majors,” Bonino said.
Ultimately, the most challenging aspect of the renovation, according to Bonino, has thus far been balancing historic preservation with technological innovations required for the theater. The building will fundamentally serve to manage the needs of the drama and dance programs in Humanities & Sciences while the University Architect works to savor the gym’s history.
Bonino considers the Roble Gym project as more complex than others he has worked on due to its technological and spatial necessities. His similar “historic preservation efforts” projects in past years have included Branner Hall and Bakewell (now Montag) Hall.
Roble Gym, originally built as a women’s gym in 1931, has not undergone serious construction until now. Since the Trustees’ approval of the gym’s renovation, the project’s managers and those working with them have been planning to ensure all needs are met and the building’s historical character is preserved before construction.
Updates to the gym’s infrastructure will accommodate changes to the building’s exterior landscape and alteration to interior mechanics, electrics and safety plans.
“It must be four years ago now that this whole motion to renovate got going since the county fire marshal discovered that the theater had been installed by the University wasn’t up to the assembly codes that the basketball gym without seating was originally set for,” said Anthony Kramer, dance faculties operations coordinator. “That was one of the inspirations for the upgrade to happen, but it’s been on the mind of the drama department since they got the building.”
Creating a space for the arts
Although the new theater will be primarily utilized by the Department of Theater & Performance Studies (TAPS) for academic purposes, other programs and users will have regular access to the theater. The “arts gym,” on the other hand, provides Stanford ID holders with full access to the drop-in creative space for their own artistic, non-academic use. The back of the Roble Gym space will host the open facility.
According to Matthew Tiews M.A. ’99 Ph.D. ’04, executive director of Arts Programs, the theater space and “arts gym” are new additions to the University campus.
“The ‘arts gym’ is a concept that doesn’t currently exist on campus,” Tiews said. “It’s part of our arts initiative to really make the arts integral to a Stanford education and to make the arts available to Stanford students.”
Since 2006, Stanford has been striving to increase the level and availability of the arts to encourage student involvement throughout the community. Apart from Roble Gym, other arts projects include Bing Concert Hall, opened in 2013; the Anderson Collection, opening in September; and the McMurtry Building, opening in the fall of 2015.
Construction is projected for completion by September 2015.
Originally published in the Stanford Daily.