Bergendoff is in structural treble


Giselle Barajas

Augustana’s music building, Bergendoff, has surprisingly withstood the test of time. However, Bergendoff has definitely not aged well, and students have begged for a renovation for years.
The Director of Choral Activities at Augustana, Dr. Jon Hurty, said, “I’ve been here for 22 years and we’ve talked about doing a renovation pretty much the whole time I’ve [been here].”  
Walking into Bergendoff is like walking into a time-machine. With its maze-like building structure and pink-tiled bathrooms, there’s no surprise Bergendoff was built in the ‘50s. Music majors and students alike can attest that the ‘50s nostalgia must be put aside for a well needed renovation.
The only ever time Bergendoff was touched since its construction was to add an air conditioning unit in 1992, according to Augustana’s Special Collections. Additionally, there have been some smaller renovations such as the addition of an ensemble room, hallway renovations and a recent renovation of Larson Hall within the past 15 years, according to Hurty. 
While these small renovations were helpful, there are still a lot of other issues that need to be addressed.
Specifically, the building is no longer well-equipped to fit all of the growing ensembles. Ensemble rooms are meant to be open, spacious and built for sending sound, with as little sound absorption as possible. Potter Hall and the Blackbox Theatre in no way fulfill this need, yet Jenny Lind Choir and Augustana Concert Chorale rehearse in these spaces.
Then there’s the lack of a proper space for music education students. They need classroom spaces similar to those in primary schools. Luckily, the first phase of the renovation, starting this summer, will include better classroom spaces for music education students. 
Later phases in the renovation will then include the second floor of Bergendoff, where Jenny Lind rehearses.
Disappointingly, a renovation to the practice rooms is a mere dream. And with the practice rooms having no sound-proof walls whatsoever, it can be a doozy trying to practice while other instruments and voices are practicing as well. Hearing others practicing poses a nuisance for those who need to practice with no distractions.
Hurty mentioned that it’s a long-term goal to possibly move practice rooms into Centennial Hall, but as of now it appears there are no set plans to construct sound-proof walls.
The renovation will also improve the overall infrastructure of the building by updating the HVAC system. The current state of the HVAC affects some of the instruments stored within rooms with fluctuating temperatures, according to Hurty.
So with time, an investment into improving the HVAC system could possibly prevent damage to instruments and save money overtime. 
Not to mention, an overall renovation can help gain the interests of more prospective students. A building that is better equipped for the music program could bring in more students who would otherwise be turned off by Bergendoffs current state.
Augustana has an incredibly talented music program that deserves the proper building space to accommodate the program’s growing needs. Essentially, a renovation for Bergendoff has been long overdue — but maybe keep those cute pink-tiled bathrooms.
Graphic by Kevin Donovan/Observer Staff