IU trustees give go-ahead to Bloomington campus amphitheater design

  • Aug. 17, 2015

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By Kat Carlton

A new outdoor amphitheater nestled among the trees behind Bryan House on the Indiana University Bloomington campus could be a reality by December 2016. The IU Board of Trustees approved a proposed design for the performance venue at its meeting Friday. IU President Michael McRobbie said the plan is part of the university’s continuing commitment to supporting the arts and humanities.

“When you think about every form of performance and artistic expression,” said McRobbie, “...we have a first-rate facility to support that.”

According to Thomas Morrison, vice president of capital planning and facilities, former IU President Herman B Wells envisioned an outdoor amphitheater in the space that’s now occupied by the Lilly Library. IU will be able to realize a new version of that vision, he said, thanks to private donations that will completely fund the project. Since the project is in its early design phases, there is not yet a cost estimate or final specifications.

Morrison said ideally, performers, visitors and students would occupy the space for scheduled shows and as a study area among the greenery. The Jordan River, which currently flows through the space behind Bryan House, would be slightly altered to flow around the new structure.

“This is a beautiful area of the campus, and we’re trying to maintain it as such,” said Morrison.

According to Morrison, architect Jonathan Hess, whose resume includes renovations to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Conrad Hotel and more, is designing the amphitheater.

“He’s our superstar architect in the state,” said IU Trustee James Morris.

Morrison said the project is inspired largely by the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater in Swarthmore, Pa., which is an outdoor space that incorporates a series of stone steps into a grassy area surrounded by trees. The proposed design includes a series of limestone walls among the greenery.

The project also includes a new pavilion and patio area for Bryan House, which is traditionally used as the IU president’s house.

Other highlights from the trustees' meeting:

President’s Report

During his report in the trustees’ business meeting, IU President Michael McRobbie announced the university received $540.6 million in external research funding and $416.2 million in private and institutional philanthropic contributions for the current fiscal year.

McRobbie also said IU had a record 183 U.S. and global and U.S. patents issued, which is more than any other research institution in the state, and a 254 percent increase over the previous year.

School of Art and Design

The trustees endorsed a proposal to form the School of Art and Design on the Bloomington campus, which would bring together courses of study within the departments of studio art and apparel merchandising and interior design.

Representatives of the program said they want to pursue new minors in product design, digital design, illustration and others for the undergraduate program. As for the graduate program, new areas to be developed include comprehensive design, especially of the urban environment.

The main office for the proposed School of Art and Design is in Kirkwood Hall. The 1894 building on the Old Crescent is scheduled to undergo renovations beginning this fall. Apparel merchandising and interior design offices are slated to move into Kirkwood once construction is complete. This fall, a newly renovated studio building will open in Bloomington to serve the needs of its painting faculty and BFA and MFA students.

The target date for the launch of the School of Art and Design is July 1, 2016.


The trustees approved three new degrees: a Master of Arts and Master of Science in International Studies, as well as a Master of Science in Informatics.

President McRobbie also commended efforts regarding the school’s new engineering program, which was approved by the state on Thursday.