Maltz construction project gains approval

Grace Howard, News Editor

Earlier this August, the final plans to construct an addition to the Maltz Performing Arts Center were approved by both the city of Cleveland’s Euclid Corridor Design Review Committee and its planning commission.

The project has been in the works since 2015. The addition to the building will add a 250-seat proscenium theater, a 100-seat studio theater, faculty offices and costume and scene shops. Christopher Panichi, director of planning, design and construction for Case Western Reserve University told that the addition should be complete in time for 2021 fall classes.

The addition to Maltz was designed by DLR Group | Westlake Reed Leskosky, a firm specializing in healthcare architecture that also has a reputation for its cultural and performing arts facilities. They were responsible for the renovations done on the Playhouse Square theaters dating back to the 1970s.

Ron Reed, architect for DLR Group | Westlake Reed Leskosky, made it clear that they wanted their design to highlight the pre-existing features of the building. Notably, the brilliant gold dome that rises above the rest of the buildings in the area. The intention of the addition is to avoid drawing attention away from the dome and instead complement the motif of the building.

It is suggested that the end goal for this expansion will be to move the dance, theater and music departments completely off campus and into the new building.

This came as a surprise to Kathleen Horvath, director of orchestras at CWRU. When asked what she knew about the construction project, she said, “Very little. We were told that they are doing some theater work. In addition, there will be a green room space for ensembles before concerts.” 

The music department faculty made no contributions to the construction plans or designs. She continued on to say, “There is supposed to be some improved traffic things, and they are going to continue to work on the parking,” which has been an issue in the past.

The original 2015 renovations to Maltz were supposed to add more music venues than were actually constructed. The music department was supposed to have the facility space to completely move to Maltz then. However, Horvath is ultimately happy with the department’s current locality. “This is a more centrally located facility for students … I think that students would be happier staying here [Denison Hall].”

Currently, the music department uses Maltz as a concert venue for most ensemble performances. Typically the ensembles have a couple of rehearsals in Silver Hall, including a dress rehearsal the day before the concert. Otherwise, the space is not used by the department. Regular ensemble rehearsals will likely continue to occur in Denison.

The new Maltz addition will greatly affect the day-to-day of theater students. Many in the theater department anticipate making use of the new facilities. Lauren Harrison, a third-year theater major with a concentration in design, said she thinks that “[the addition to Maltz] will be a fantastic opportunity for upcoming theater majors because of all the technology it’s supposed to have that maybe we haven’t worked with yet. It’s also going to have much larger spaces that will give students more of an idea of the size of the industry they are working towards.”