Calvin College, Covenant Fine Arts Center

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Hailed as a superlative performance venue and an acoustic marvel 40 years ago, the Calvin College Covenant Fine Arts Center (CFAC) was feeling its age. The CFAC is the front door of the Calvin College campus for many in the broader community. It was important to maintain that connection as well as serve the college’s students by creating ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$134.00CITATIONBronze CitationFEATURED IN2011 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYAuditoriums/Music Rooms practice, rehearsal, teaching and performance space. The solution was to modernize the CFAC but respect its heritage and nostalgic appeal to the community.

The exterior was designed to respect the campus Prairie School design language; it added 40,000 square feet of space to the original 72,000-square-foot CFAC. The expanded west lobby, whose long stretch of windows looks out on the campus lawn, was enlarged to serve as a lobby for its three main public spaces: the new 240-seat recital hall, new 3,800-square-foot gallery and 1,100-seat renovated auditorium. The expanded east side added a student lounge surrounded by classrooms, practice and teaching suites, instrument storage, a musical library, and the English and music department offices. The entire facility is anchored by the renovated CFAC auditorium, complete with new HVAC and theatrical lighting, fabrics and woodwork.

Once ringed by classrooms, the auditorium now is ringed by an intimate recital hall, whose wide bands of cherry wood not only warm the space, but also provide acoustical diffusion, expressing the Prairie School desire for simplicity and function, and embracing a handcrafted feel.

The new art gallery exhibition space houses two galleries: a gallery for displaying a rotating selection from the college’s permanent collection; and a larger gallery—whose 33-foot walls are capped with a lightwell—for temporary exhibitions.

As a hub of culture, education and artistic expression, the exemplary CFAC energizes its campus and its community.

"Very handsome auditorium space. The recital hall is excellent."--2011 jury