Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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February 24, 2014

Morehead State plan adds music center

MOREHEAD — An addition to Morehead State University’s long-term plan puts a new $50 million music and performance center along Main Street, replacing the Laughlin Health Building and Wetherby Gymnasium.

In addition to the new Music Academic and Performing Arts Education Building, the plan calls for a welcome center to be built on the lot at the main entrance to camps where the former Brass Eagle Apartments building now stands and parking structures to be located at the site of the former Rowan County Courthouse.

Anchoring the new look will be the performance building, with a 600-seat multi-purpose auditorium, classrooms and administrative offices, and an internal mall that will be used as a lobby and event space.

“Laughlin and Weatherby need to be replaced,” said President Wayne Andrews. “We’re hoping for a 21st century facility.”

RossTarrant Architects, a Lexington firm, met with Andrews and faculty to devise a master plan for construction and renovation.

“We’ve worked with an architecture firm, they looked at our programs and enrollment growth,” said Andrews. “They helped us identify what the scope of a new building might entail, which would serve our purpose and cost upwards of $50 million.”

The project missed the capital projects deadline for this year’s legislative session, but Andrews said hopes to put it on the list for 2016. Construction could then take up to four years.

“We have to prioritize our capital projects, which has to be submitted to the commonwealth of Kentucky in a biennial budget,” said Andrews. “We’re right now in the ’14-’16 biennial budget period, and the soonest this could be considered by the state would be during the ’16 or ’18 biennial budget.”

“Once this project is on the capital list and we’re approved by the state, then money wouldn’t be available until July 2016. Then it would take a year to plan the project, and then two years to build a project of this size, which would take us through 2019 or 2020.

The funding request for the project has yet to be determined, but Andrews said he hopes to raise private money before presenting the idea to the legislature in 2016.

“We’re going to introduce this idea to our alumni and friends to see if we can begin to raise some private money that would help us start it,” he said. “That way, when we go to the general assembly, we can say that we’ve already raised 5 million dollars toward construction, during the 16, 18 budget period.”

Construction of the new building, with classrooms, rehearsal spaces and Music Department offices will leave Baird Music Hall empty. Andrews is hopeful Baird can be used for other academic purposes.

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