LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts Unveils New Tiger Band Hall
BATON ROUGE – On April 26, LSU unveiled its new home for “The Golden Band from Tigerland,” officially cutting the ribbon on the new Tiger Band Hall facility at an event hosted by the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts.
The 17,740-square-foot complex, located on Aster Street near Highland Road and just beyond the campus’ north gates, will be used by for rehearsals by the Tiger Band and the LSU School of Music’s entire band area, including the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds and Symphonic Band concert groups.
“The new Tiger Band Hall is a welcome addition to support a very visible entity that is closely identified with the spirit, identity, pride and passion of LSU,” said Laurence Kaptain, dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts. “This will be the fourth building in the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, and our faculty and students will benefit greatly from the much needed space for storage and rehearsals as well as the teaching, learning and creativity that emanates from our band program and other areas.”
Serenaded by members of the Tiger Band performing songs that the LSU community has come to know and love, a host of supporters and campus officials toured the facility during the event, led by members of the band as well as members of the Colorguard and Golden Girls. A luncheon followed the festivities.
The overall cost to construct the facility came in at $8.7 million, with up to $10 million approved by state government for the project, LSU Director of Facility Development Emmett David said. He added that a competitive bid process led to the project coming in under budget, and that unused dollars were returned to the state’s general fund.
“The original costs projected in 2007 were more than $10 million dollars, and we are very proud that the Tiger Band Hall came in well under those original budget estimates,” Kaptain said. “With the lower construction costs due to the recession, this stands as positive fiscal news in higher education during this difficult time in the nation’s economy.”
New Orleans architecture firm Howard Performance Architecture designed the complex, and Baton Rouge building contractor firm Percy J. Matherne Contractor Inc. served as the project’s general contractor.
Making of a masterpiece
Planning for the new Tiger Band Hall dates back more than three decades, when recently retired Director of Bands Frank Wickes arrived at LSU and began efforts to create a new space for the LSU bands.
The current band hall – tucked away behind the Music & Dramatic Arts Building – was constructed hastily in 1959, after the original hall and its contents were destroyed in a devastating fire the prior year, LSU Director of Athletic Bands Roy King said.
“From the start, the space was too small,” said King, who was a drummer in Tiger Band when Wickes arrived in 1980. “Band membership numbered 180 at that time. The space was built to only hold 140 players. Today, the band has a membership of 325 members, so we needed to find some way to accommodate those numbers.”
The lack of space also meant inadequate storage facilities for instruments and band uniforms, King said. For years, the band was forced to store many of its larger instruments and other equipment in four semi-trailers that sit near the edge of the band’s practice field.
“Those trailers are not climate controlled, so the instruments would sit out there in the blazing hot Louisiana summers,” King said. “That’s not a good environment to keep much of anything in, especially sensitive musical instruments.”
Most storage concerns have been eliminated with the new Tiger Band Hall, a facility with separate climate controlled spaces to accommodate everything from musical instruments, field equipment and band uniforms to Colorguard banners and Golden Girl uniform accessories.
The lobby area features an illuminated trophy case. LCD flat screen televisions will also be installed for the band’s tradition of watching afternoon football games prior to their night game performances.
Meanwhile, the energy efficient building also includes sensors and other “smart” devices to control the climate and assure that lighting is managed economically.
The new Tiger Band Hall is also equipped with the latest in digital audio and video technology, Kaptain said. High-speed internet connectivity will allow for distance learning, teaching and collaborative activities with other schools throughout Louisiana, as well as for the Tiger Band students themselves.
“This facility is more than just a band hall,” Kaptain said. “This is a learning space for the course MUS 4250. Tiger Band is a credit class for our School of Music students, and can be claimed as an elective credit by non-music majors.”
The centerpiece of the new Tiger Band Hall is the band’s first ever indoor rehearsal space, which is about the size of a standard basketball court.
King said the concept for the size of the rehearsal room was determined by using the floor space of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. He noted that, when seated, the Tiger Band takes up the dimensions of a basketball court.
“When architects asked us how big all the spaces and critical adjacencies needed to be, that’s how we came up with the square footage for the big room,” he said.
According to King, the design of the rehearsal hall is intentional and takes into account certain Tiger Band traditions and best practices. To this end, a 15-foot wide projection screen is available for the band to review their halftime performance immediately after returning from Tiger Stadium on home game days. Also, designated walls are mirrored to accommodate Colorguard and Golden Girl rehearsals.
Every element of the rehearsal room is tied to the acoustical system, from the double set of motorized purple velvet curtains that line the walls surrounding the room, to the angled walls. The curtains also control light from the clerestory windows that surround the rehearsal room.
“The room can be adjusted to accommodate everything from the full Tiger Band to the 60 piece Wind Ensemble,” King said. “An ensemble conductor can alter the acoustics of the room as needed. The irregular nature of the slat work was done for the acoustical properties and diffuses the sound as it hits the wall.”
Outside, the band will continue using its current practice field for rehearsals of halftime performances. However, now overlooking the field is a specially designed observation tower with a 133-square-foot base, providing a safer observation area for King and other staff members to survey formations.
“We’ve never had a permanent conductor’s tower before now,” King said. “This tower is one of the best of its kind anywhere in the conference or, quite possibly, the nation.”
King said that the exteriors of both the band hall and tower were designed to match the Italian Renaissance style of many buildings in the LSU Quadrangle, in order to maintain the university’s architectural theme. The administrative offices of the band area will remain in the current Band Hall, along with the area for instrument maintenance and repair.
Kaptain said when Tiger Band is not using the facility, its use can be extended for activities that will benefit students and support LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts faculty, such as evening concerts and recitals.
“Louisiana taxpayers should know that this space will be used for maximum benefit and will not sit empty when Tiger Band is not in session,” he said.
The site also features a courtyard lined with engraved bricks. Alumni, family and friends of Tiger Band are able to purchase bricks there for engraving. More information on purchasing bricks can be found at www.lsubandbricks.com. Other funding opportunities for the Tiger Band Hall are also available. For more information, contact LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts Director of Development Steve Covington at (225) 578-9268 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the LSU Foundation at 225-578-3811, toll free at 1-800-452-7928 or email email@example.com.
Funding for the new Tiger Band Hall project was made possible through numerous sources, both private and public. Through an action of the 2007 Legislature, the state of Louisiana appropriated $5 million toward construction of the new hall. However, to gain these funds, the university was required to provide a $5 million match in 2008. To do this, the LSU System and LSU Athletics vowed to commit $4.5 million to the project through proceeds from athletics ticket sales. Meanwhile, private donors raised approximately $2 million toward construction of the facility through the Forever LSU campaign.
“Due to prudent planning, support from the state Legislature, LSU Athletics and many generous donors, this building is built to last for more than 80 years and is equipped with the technology and storage capacity commensurate with the nation’s finest collegiate marching band,” Kaptain said. “We are very grateful to the members of the Louisiana State Legislature, the many private donors who stepped up when called, and for all of the support from the LSU Athletic Department, LSU campus and system officials who saw the need and responded forthrightly.”
“LSU is extremely fortunate to have the support of state government as well as LSU Athletics, alumni and private donors, whose combined efforts have helped us to create a top-notch facility for a top-notch organization such as Tiger Band,” said LSU Chancellor Michael Martin. “This state-of-the-art facility will afford an outstanding group of students, faculty and staff the opportunity to build upon an already stellar legacy of musical education and entertainment. We offer our sincere thanks to everyone who had a hand in making this dream a reality.”
LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said that the new band hall’s opening “ushers in a new era for the already rich history of Tiger Band.”
“The LSU Athletic Department is pleased to have participated in such a significant way in helping construct the band hall, and we look forward to the opportunities this new facility will offer Tiger Band members for many years to come,” Alleva said.