"I am interested in how this wild beast lives in the jungle--not in the zoo."
-- Morton Feldman
Valencia, CA, September 10, 2007--California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) will celebrate the construction of its new music pavilion, The Wild Beast, on October 1. Designed by the Los Angeles-based architectural firm Hodgetts + Fung, the structure is named for contemporary American composer Morton Feldman’s reference to the illusive space in a work of art between subject and surface where meaning resides. The innovative building is designed to adapt to classes, small recitals or large public performances.
"The Wild Beast is a critical development for CalArts," said CalArts President Steven Lavine. "It will expand the range of performance opportunities for our students, help us better accommodate the unceasing flow of guest artists (which is particularly appropriate in that Morton Feldman was one such visiting artist), and enhance our ability to present concerts for audiences in the Santa Clarita Valley and from around the Los Angeles basin. This new classroom and concert venue, like the addition of REDCAT (the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) in 2003, will give further impetus to the School of Music's continuing ascent in quality and influence. We're thrilled."
Nestled in the grassy courtyard near the front entrance of the Institute, the 3,200 square-foot free-standing building will accommodate the musical styles and cultures represented in the CalArts School of Music. This vibrant mix ranges from chamber and large ensemble repertoire, jazz idioms, and theatrical vocal works to experimental media, improvisation, and the musical traditions of Africa, India, Indonesia and other parts of the world.
The School of Music has nearly doubled in size from 136 students in 1990 to 259 in 2007, requiring increased classroom and performance space. Working closely with the School of Music Dean David Rosenboom, architect Craig Hodgetts and his partner Hsin-Ming Fung designed a structure to meet these multiple requirements.
"Thinking together outside categories, the architects and I blended their imaginations with CalArts' vision and hit on a plan offering wonderful ways to address our artistic needs," said Rosenboom. "We're building a new little jewel for the campus that will offer more public access to the enriching experiences emerging from our potent, inventive community."
The front wall of the building will slide open, transforming the interior space into a stage reminiscent of open air performance facilities at Tanglewood, Aspen and Ravinia. When enclosed, the facility will seat audiences up to 140 persons and when the front wall is open the audience capacity can expand to more than 1,000.
When The Wild Beast is open, a folding glass awning will help project sound to the audience and add to the sense of light and movement. The roof and one wall will be a continuous curving form sheathed in copper shingles. "The initial image came from a fabric building," said Hodgetts. "We wanted to make it light, feminine and curvaceous--a counterpoint to the geometric forms of CalArts' massive three-story building."
Bruce Gibbons of the Valencia-based structural engineering firm of Thornton Tomasetti has designed the shell of the thin, lightweight structure."The engineering is very exotic and elegant." said Hodgetts.
Scheduled to open in fall 2008, The Wild Beast is the most recent project in which Hodgetts + Fung have combined acoustic requirements with aesthetic concerns. The firm recently redesigned and updated the Hollywood Bowl and designed the 110-acre performing arts center and amphitheater for the Minnesota Orchestral Association.
Construction costs of The Wild Beast are funded through The Campaign for CalArts which is focused on raising support for three critical priorities at CalArts: growing the endowment, sustaining current programs and supporting capital projects. Expanding facilities for music students and building The Wild Beast is an important component of the campaign, which, as of August 15, 2007, has raised $114 million towards its $125 million goal.
As the lead donor, CalArts supporter Abby Sher named the building The Wild Beast in tribute to Morton Feldman and collaborated with Hodgetts + Fung to bring the project into focus. Other significant support came from former trustee Richard Seaver, who passed away in June and included The Wild Beast in his extensive philanthropic legacy at CalArts; and Meshulam Riklis whose daughter, Kady Riklis, is an alumna of the School of Music. These donors have contributed a total of $950,000 toward the project.
California Institute of the Arts:
CalArts, the first U.S. higher educational institution to integrate the visual and performing arts under one roof, is recognized as the nation's leading laboratory for the arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater--CalArts embraces creative cross-pollination among diverse art forms and traditions and strongly encourages each artist to pursue his or her vision within a broad context of social and cultural understanding.
CalArts School of Music:
The School offers a unique learning environment founded on principles of artistic excellence, experimentation, critical reflection and independent inquiry. Its offered programs include Composition, Performer/Composer, Jazz Studies, Multi-Focus Performance, Multi-Focus Music Technologies, Musical Arts, and World Music Performance. Undergraduate programs lead to a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree and graduate programs to a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. The School engages students in high-level collaborative work cutting across stylistic and cultural boundaries, allowing students to graduate with creative and technical flexibility. Firmly grounded in traditional and contemporary music forms, the School's programs prepare graduates to develop new expressions and contribute to the ongoing evolution of music practice.
Hodgetts + Fung
Craig Hodgetts and Hsin-Ming Fung founded the office of Hodgetts + Fung in 1984. The husband-and-wife architecture team have individually pursued distinguished careers as educators. They have been highly visible advocates of design excellence through their roles as designer/curators for significant exhibitions at major museums throughout the world, and have been recognized internationally for their ability to create imaginative and highly functional buildings. Hodgetts was a Founding Dean at the California Institute of the Arts and is presently a full professor at UCLA's School of Architecture and Urban Planning.