University Approves $26 Million New Music Building and Renovations

The University of Otago has approved plans to construct brand new recording studios for the Department of Music as well as refurbishing the nearby Music suite, Teaching Wing and Tower Block on the University of Otago College of Education campus.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2019 academic year, will cost the university approximately $26 million.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne has specified that this project will bring about some enormous benefits, not least a “consolidation of the department’s staff, students and activities, instead of them being in about 10 locations around the campus,” and also to “promote a sense of community in the East Precinct of campus and within the Division of Humanities.”

Division of Humanities Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Ballantyne says the “East Precinct is considered a key area for the future development of the Division, so the relocation of the Music, Theatre and Performing Arts Te Kāhui Tau is the first step towards that future.”

The substantial investment also reaffirms the importance of the Department of Music, Theatre and Performing to the University, according to their press release.

Tertiary Education Union (TEU) Organiser, Shaun Scott, told Critic that he is supportive of the move, highlighting the need for “good quality facilities for both staff and students that are fit for purpose.”

Scott says it is a “great commitment to the Music Department by the University” and sees it as a “fantastic opportunity to build interest for students to study music in the future”.

The Music Department’s existing recording studio is currently located at 180 Albany Street, although it has been found to contain asbestos. Though independent contractors have deemed it safe for staff and students to use in the interim, the university has taken “the most cost effective option of dealing with the asbestos by demolishing the ageing building once the new facilities are ready, which would also free the site of the existing recording studio for future development,” according to the press release.

This article first appeared in Issue 15, 2017.
Posted 10:55am Sunday 16th July 2017 by Joe Higham.