Not only was Sn hetta charged with designing a building to house classes in theatre, music, film, digital arts and graphic design, but also to create a socially engaging facility where lively interaction and collaboration thrive. The resulting $40 million, 93,000-square-foot Wolfe Center will feature an abundance of natural light and open, welcoming public areas as well as functional workspaces for students and faculty.
Gently angled walls will be countered by a tall, vertical tower that will serve as a visual symbol of the collaborative arts on campus. The building will be the first to be completed in the U.S. by the renowned Norwegian architectural firm. Sn hetta is the recipient of the Mies van der Rohe Prize, Europe’s highest architectural honor.
The ceremony to launch the center was an immersive “groundbuilding” event where the Saddlemire Student Services Building used to stand.
Dr. Katerina R edi Ray, director of the School of Art, said, “Today, you will see no shovels, no foundation stone and no mortar. Instead, we will build new ground, symbolically and literally. Students from the ceramics program have molded old ground—clay—into new ground—the Wolfe Center. Fired and glazed in our ceramic kilns, this new ground will be constructed in front of you.”
Students seamlessly combined their individual ceramic pieces to build a likeness of the center.
“This is a dream come true,” said Mary Wolfe as she and her husband, Frederic, were invited to place the final nameplate piece onto the ceramic model. The Wolfe family provided a $1.5 million leadership gift. Another major gift, $750,000 from Thomas and Kathleen Donnell, will support the construction of the main theater.
The facility will be located between the Moore Musical Arts Center and the Fine Arts Center. It will also become the new home of the Department of Theatre and Film and offer the community an exceptional venue in which to see a wide range of performances.
The interior amenities will be integrated with the architectural design to provide maximum usability and flexibility, while ensuring the technical needs of a 21st-century performance space. The facility will include a traditional performance stage, black-box stage, editing bays, computer labs, classrooms and choral rehearsal room.
“The Wolfe Center for the Arts will shine a spotlight on the arts – one of BGSU's centers of excellence,” said Dr. Simon Morgan-Russell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The Wolfe Center will serve all BGSU students, helping us to emphasize the importance of embracing the arts and culture in the development of well-rounded, worldly graduates.”
Erik Zohn, a junior studying ceramics, said, “Right now, arts students are scattered across campus. Not only will this building bring us together into one space, the design of the building is very student-focused – giving us the space, resources and encouragement to work creatively and collaboratively.”
“Our communities need a creative and educated population. Access to the arts is an important part of that objective,” said BGSU President Carol A. Cartwright. “Bowling Green State University has been a longtime leader in the arts. This is the next step in BGSU achieving prominence on an international stage.”