It’s a long way (with a few detours) to the top

Traditionally, there’s little that disrupts the serenity of summer at IU Bloomington. A few not-quite-ready-for-prime-time kids from one of the nearby high schools, perhaps. A little loud music now that the car windows have been rolled down. In terms of the overall vibe on campus and around town, though, the hottest months of the year are often the coolest.

So why is Bloomington suddenly feeling a little less AC this summer and a little more, well, AC/DC?

An architect’s rendering of the new IU Jacobs School of Music Studio Building.

The answer to anyone who’s walked or driven around campus the last few weeks is as easy to identify as an Angus Young guitar riff. Construction, and lots of it. From Third Street to Seventeenth Street, Briscoe to the Bypass and all of the spaces in between, the sights and sounds of bulldozers, cranes, jackhammers and other heavy machinery have shaken up this summer’s soundtrack at IU Bloomington.

This detour from the summer norm has not been without challenges to the eyes, ears and, yes, GPS systems of all of us who look forward to summer silence, less traffic congestion and more parking availability. And sure enough, as the official start of summer approaches, many whispers of frustration have turned to full-on wails, as faculty, staff and students navigate the extra noise and nuisance.

I must admit, I’ve struggled a bit myself. (Lately, it’s felt as if someone hijacked my iPod and switched it out for Jack Black’s.) At the same time, there’s something inherently exciting about all the activity taking place around us. I’m looking forward to the sweet sounds that will soon emanate from the new IU Jacobs School of Music Studio Building, expected to be completed in July 2013. Located on the corner of Third Street and Jordan Avenue, this $44 million facility, supported by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, will provide IU’s world-renowned music faculty with technologically and acoustically superior studio space rivaling any music school or conservatory in the world. It will also serve as a new gateway to IU’s fine arts, music and performing arts district that some of us like to think of as IU’s own “Lincoln Center.”

Count me in — to borrow a phrase from the Kelley School of Business — among the many people at IU anxiously awaiting the expansion and renovation of Kelley’s undergraduate building. Once completed, this extreme makeover of the newly named Hodge Hall Undergraduate Center, which will result in more classrooms, collaborative workspaces and the latest in new technologies, will elevate the already-important role Kelley plays in strengthening Indiana’s economy. What’s more, this three-phase, $60 million project, supported by a $33 million grant from Lilly Endowment and a $15 million gift by Kelley alumnus James R. Hodge, will further Kelley’s standing among the world’s elite business schools. In the words of IU Bloomington Interim Provost Lauren Robel, this beautiful building will be “rocket fuel” for Kelley faculty and students seeking to collaborate in real time with scholars and corporations overseas.

The noise we’re currently hearing also signals the continuation of a renaissance in student living across campus. Renovations are currently ongoing at Briscoe, McNutt and Teter quads and Tulip Tree Apartments, and work has begun on the new Rose Avenue Residence Hall, a 155,000-square-foot, 450-bed student housing complex to be located on the north side of Third Street between Union Street and Rose Avenue. These projects come hot on the heels of other recent student housing developments, including last summer’s re-opening of sparkling Shoemaker Tower, part of the first phase of a $42 million renovation project at Briscoe Residence Center, and the fall 2010 debut of the Union Street Center, the first new residential complex to open on the IU Bloomington campus in more than 40 years. All of these projects are significantly enhancing the living and learning environment for students seeking to get the most out of their college experience.

An architectural rendering of IU’s new baseball facility, which will be named Bart Kaufman Field in honor of a former IU student-athlete.

Finally, the Hoosier fan in me would be remiss in not mentioning another sound we’ll welcome next year—the crack of the bat at IU Bloomington’s new baseball and softball complex. This new state-of-the-art facility, which is expected to be ready in time for the 2013 season, represents a new era in Hoosier baseball and softball, a major step forward for both programs and the start of a whole new fan experience at the ballpark.

All of this is not to say we can’t lament the loss of summer’s standard silence. But as AC/DC sings, it’s a long way to the top (if you want to rock n’ roll). I, for one, vow to spend those extra minutes I’m forced to walk or drive envisioning IU Bloomington’s changing skyline, the positive impact it will have on faculty, staff and students, and the great promise it reflects.


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