Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Breaks Ground on School of Theatre and Dance Complex

Amanda Castro-Crist

August 11, 2017

VPA Groundbreaking

The renovations and expansion will give students, faculty and staff access to innovative technology and updated learning, rehearsal and performance spaces.

Groundbreaking video available by request

Photos by Artie Limmer

Students within the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA) at Texas Tech University will soon have new spaces to hone their skills thanks to a generous gift from some of the university's most ardent supporters.

Officials from the Texas Tech University System broke ground today (Aug. 11) on the School of Theatre & Dance Complex, an expansion and renovation of the Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre.

The project was made possible by a $10 million donation from philanthropists J.T. and Margaret Talkington and is the first part of a two-phase project focused on updating and expanding the university's theater and dance facilities.  

“Through their lives and philanthropy, J.T. and Margaret Talkington made Texas Tech and Lubbock a better community for all,” said Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan. “These visionaries understood the potential of the arts to change lives, and this facility will continue the evolution of Texas Tech and Lubbock as an arts destination with global impact.”

Chancellor Robert Duncan

Construction will include a grand lobby space, a box office and a 178-seat, 5,162-square-foot black-box theater that will help diversify the existing theatrical spaces. Two rehearsal spaces, lighting and computer-assisted design and drafting (CADD) labs, a green room and makeup and dressing rooms also are included in the project. Three 30-seat classrooms, a scene shop and administrative and faculty offices will fill the remaining space.

“Because of the generous legacy of J.T. and Margaret Talkington, our theater and dance students and faculty will have access to state-of-the-art technology and updated rehearsal and performance spaces,” said President Lawrence Schovanec. “The quality of this facility will enhance the ability of our students and faculty to deliver the excellent productions and performances for which they are already so well-known."

Creating a collaborative space

Mark Charney, director of the School of Theatre & Dance, said the updates are needed to provide students the training and experience for success. Innovative, cutting-edge facilities have the potential to inspire great art. For theater and dance faculty, the opportunity to teach, research and produce in top-caliber facilities means greater opportunities for students to prepare for a professional arts career.

President Lawrence Schovanec

“When I first took over the School of Theatre & Dance in 2012, I recognized, like so many schools in the country, that one of our greatest opportunities was in regards to facilities,” he said. “We joked that theatre and dance existed in five different places around campus.”

Throughout the years, the college has expanded into numerous locations across campus, building a stand-alone costume shop and a CADD lab. The upcoming renovations will go one step further, Charney said, uniting all the resources in one building.

“The act of producing theater itself is one of the most collaborative of all of the arts, so it's ironic that we are dispersed all over campus,” Charney said. “While we have made it work, actually bringing our elements together again will allow the students to put energy into creative acts, rather than strategies for effective collaboration between spaces.”

Giving back to Lubbock

This gift from J.T. and Margaret Talkington represents not only the creation of a state-of-the-art facility, Charney said. It also illustrates a true commitment to the arts, community engagement and experiential education.

“Our School of Theatre & Dance is intent on making Lubbock its campus,” Charney said.  “We are intent on making art that directly affects and betters the community. This new facility will be a gathering place for all the arts and also for our partners like Guadalupe Somerville Parkway, the Burkhart Center and the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood Grant.”

Above all, the updates will help fulfill the vision of TCVPA Dean Noel Zahler. This includes making Texas Tech a place where students gather nationally and internationally, where partnerships with entities like the Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi take the college to the next level and where faculty explore how the arts best affect the medical community.

“World-class universities recognize the role of the arts in raising the visibility of the institution and in breaking new ground in creativity, community engagement and scholarship,” Zahler said. “A world-class institution must provide world-class facilities for its arts programs. Chancellor Duncan's big bold initiative in the arts is responsible for the new 74,500-square-foot Theatre & Dance complex, and bold ideas are what makes Texas Tech world class. Our students, faculty and the entire Texas Tech community and Lubbock benefit from this initiative."

Texas Tech University System's Facilities Planning and Construction is partnering with the architectural firms Brown Reynolds Watford and Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, theater consultant Schuler Shook and Teinert Commercial Building Services on the project.

The new space will be added to the north side of the existing Maedgen Theatre building and will cover 49,188 square feet over two floors.

“This exciting expansion celebrates Texas Tech's commitment to the arts and will be the south cornerstone to the Dairy Barn and west Library Mall park space,” said Michael Molina, vice chancellor of Facilities Planning and Construction. “The new east entry arch into the lobby and gallery space is a wonderful expression of Spanish Renaissance style, including detailed stone work and a glass façade entry revealing the public interior space.” 

Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at Texas Tech Today Media Resources or follow us on Twitter.