You are here

Arts Capital Campaign Enters Next Strategic Phase 

Submitted by Joanne De Pue on February 23, 2024 - 1:00pm
Music Building
Music Building, University of Washington.

Phase One upgrades complete; Music Building improvements to occur in Phase Two

A major fundraising initiative to remodel and upgrade critical spaces in the Music and Art Buildings at the University of Washington has made steady progress over the past year, with phase one improvements to the School of Art + Art History + Design now complete and an important fundraising milestone for the School of Music recently reached with gifts to the campaign now totaling more than $1.5 million.

Critical Investment in the Arts at UW

Identified by University leadership as top priorities for renovation and strategic enhancements, the Art and Music Buildings function as key spaces for student learning, arts engagement, and community access. Constructed more than 70 years ago with few renovations since, they have not kept pace with the demands of the ever-changing disciplines of art and music. The $15 million project to remodel heavily used spaces in the Art and Music buildings, led by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Diane Harris and Provost Tricia Serio, is structured as a public-private partnership, with the University investing $10 million, and private donations accounting for the final $5 million for both projects.

Two Phases of Renovation

Phase one renovations to the Art Building began in spring of 2022 and were completed this past spring, with a re-opening celebration of the School’s Jacob Lawrence Gallery occurring in November of 2023. Phase two of the project, upgrades to the Music building, includes plans for modernization of Brechemin Auditorium and creation of an upstairs student recital hall with a recording room. The final scope of the project is dependent on fundraising success. To date, friends of the School of Music have contributed $1.5 million of the $2.5 million required to complete the work and leverage the initial $5 million University investment earmarked for the School of Music’s portion of the project.

The two biggest schools in the UW’s Arts Division, the School of Art + Art History + Design and the School of Music serve arts majors and non-arts majors alike and account for three quarters of the arts enrollments in the division, which also includes the School of Drama, the Department of Dance and the Digital Arts and Experimental Media Department. Planned renovations will transform Music Room 213, creating a more conducive environment for scholarship and music-making.

A completely remodeled, modernized Brechemin Auditorium will enable the School of Music to better serve its students, faculty, and the larger community. The Music Building has been a beloved and highly recognizable structure on the UW’s north campus since 1950. Planned improvements will help the School of Music better serve its students, faculty, and UW community now and into the future.

Renovation Plans for Music

Renovation plans for the School of Music include an overhaul of the School’s 219- seat Brechemin Auditorium, one of the most heavily used spaces in the building. At present, patrons and students contend with obvious obstacles and signs of age, including the occasional broken seat, outdated technology, and an ongoing lack of easy access for mobility-impaired community members.

Even so, the space is in high demand and plays host to at least 100 public events each year, including student degree recitals, ensemble performances, faculty and guest artist recitals, public lectures, talks, and other scholarly activities and music-related events.

In addition to improvements to Brechemin Auditorium, renovation plans call for Music Room 213 to be updated to function as a lecture hall, recital space, and recording laboratory. This new and improved recital hall will create opportunities for intimate performances, group or solo recording, presentations, and special group activities that are not currently supported in the School’s existing spaces. Finally, planned improvements to the common areas of the main floor of the Music Building are intended to improve access and create a welcoming entry point for all who use the building.

Campaign Goal

The School’s community of supporters is key to attainment of the UW’s fundraising goal for the School of Music phase of the campaign. Private contributors have already invested $1.5 million. A total of $2.5 million in private investments will be required to complete all of the planned upgrades. “We are profoundly grateful to the friends and supporters of the School of Music who have already given to the Music Building campaign,” says School of Music director Joël-François Durand. “The planned improvements will bring our facilities more up-to-date and enable us to better serve our students and the entire community. We very much appreciate the generous friends who are helping us to make these upgrades a reality.”

Tours of the planned renovation spaces are expected to begin in Winter 2024. To learn more, please contact Stephanie Kornfeld, Director of Advancement for the Arts, at