University of Colorado officials held a ceremony Monday to break ground on construction of a 64,000-square-foot addition to the Imig Music Building, an addition designed to address "insufficient and substandard" spaces for those in the College of Music.

Although demolition of portions of the building began in early January, university officials and former deans of the college and their families gathered Monday to celebrate the project, which is scheduled to be done by the start of the fall 2020 semester.

The three-story addition will include classroom, studio and rehearsal spaces; a recording studio; and physical locations for the Entrepreneurship Center for Music and the Musicians' Wellness Program. It also will include space for the Department of Theatre and Dance.

"It's been a decades-long conversation, going back at least to the previous dean, if not the one before that, in terms of the college having both insufficient and substandard spaces to do its best work," said College of Music Dean Robert Shay. "Through the decades, the College of Music at CU Boulder has really grown into one of the top public university programs. It's nationally and internationally regarded.

"The one thing we have felt — and my predecessors I think have felt — is that our facilities are holding us back."

Shay's predecessor, Daniel Sher, who is now a professor of music, said the same.


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The college didn't have enough practice rooms, classrooms, performance or rehearsal spaces, or administrative offices, he said. He attributed the the addition to a combination of factors, including the college's growing advancement team and donors, the momentum from a new dean taking over, and support from Chancellor Phil DiStefano.

Shay took over as dean in 2014, after Sher held the role for 20 years.

"I'm just excited to watch it all unfold," Sher said. "... As a former administrator, I'm just happy for every square inch. It's all very needed, and it will be wonderful for the faculty, staff and students to have."

Anoushka Divekar is a clarinet performance and music education student, as well as the president of the college's student government. She will graduate before the addition is completed, but she's thrilled anyway, she said.

"It's already incredible to hear about the practice rooms being added," she said. "I've practiced in the hallway before. I've practiced in the bathroom before. It's a mess."

Recently, she was supposed to rehearse with her quintet, and they spent 45 minutes walking the halls of Imig looking for an open space. Other times, she's come back late at night to find an open space, she said.

"It's going to be amazing to not have to worry about logistics and really be able to focus on our education," she said.

She also touted the Musician's Wellness Program, which will get a physical location in the new addition.

"(It means) not only being physically ready to perform and having the space to do it, but also being emotionally ready to pursue our passions," she said.

In the meantime, a portion of the Imig building remains open, while some activities have been relocated to temporary spaces in the old Carlson Gymnasium, the new CASE building and St. Aidan's Episcopal Church.

The estimated $57 million addition is expected to have LEED Gold certification. LEED is a universal green building rating system.

Shay said that in the last decade or more, enrollment in the college has fluctuated between 500 and 550 students, but he sees 600 as an achievable goal once the addition is complete.

"It's very exciting," Shay said. "This has been a goal of the college going back many years to expand spaces."

Cassa Niedringhaus: 303-473-1106, cniedringhaus@dailycamera.com