Back when George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, came up with the idea (and the money) to establish what eventually became the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, he envisioned campus facilities that integrated academic and performing spaces.
It didn’t turn out that way—a landowner and Eastman could not agree on a price for the site in downtown Rochester, N.Y., on which the academic space was supposed to be built, and the school of music opened in 1921 without the adjacent wing.
But what was a good idea in 1921 was a good idea in the 2000s, school officials decided. Last fall, the Eastman School completed a $46 million project that included construction of an east wing next to Eastman Theatre that provides space for teaching, rehearsal and performance. The school design project also includes renovation of the Eastman Theatre performance hall, now renamed Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.
Besides the teaching and rehearsal space, the east wing school design also includes Hatch Recital Hall; the Wolk Atrium, a new box office, and a theatre gift shop.
Renovations to the Eastman Theatre began in 2004 with replacement of the stage and improvements in acoustics. In 2008 and 2009, the theatre received extensive upgrades: a new sound system, removal of back rows of seats, and the addition of a back wall on the orchestra level and of orchestra- and mezzanine-level boxes, all giving the hall improved acoustics and a more intimate feel.