At 'topping-off' celebration, $40M Tanglewood expansion hits 1st construction milestone

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STOCKBRIDGE — What note sounds from 275 tons of steel? In this case, a resounding cheer.

A year after the unveiling of the most ambitious, costly single project at the Boston Symphony's summer home since its opening in 1937, BSO executives and about 50 guests donned hard hats, protective vests and eyewear Monday to celebrate a construction milestone in Tanglewood's $40 million expansion program.

When the year-round, four-building performance and rehearsal site opens in June 2019, it will be the home of the new Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI) for adults, aimed at offering educational enrichment and programming for visitors.

The new facility will support the performances and rehearsal activities of the Tanglewood Music Center, the orchestra's prestigious summer music academy, as well as the TLI venture.

At the busy construction site on a windswept bluff overlooking Ozawa Hall just off Hawthorne Road, a 50-member crew from Consigli Construction Co., the general contractor, supervised the hoisting of the final steel beam atop a covered walkway that will connect the four buildings.

As the beam slid into place, cheers greeted the completion of the "topping-off" ceremony. The beam, emblazoned with an American flag, had been painted white and signed by the builders and guests before a giant crane lifted it overhead.

Construction of the complex is projected to cost just over $30 million, said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe. Fundraising will extend over a five-year campaign, he told The Eagle in an interview.

An additional $10 million will be allotted to a special endowment for the BSO's concert activities and other Tanglewood programming along with renovations to the Ozawa Hall Bernstein campus. The entrance will be reconfigured to integrate the campus with the new buildings, along with improved restroom and food service amenities.

"It's a very exciting moment," said BSO Trustee Joyce Linde, who chairs the TLI and TMC Committee. "It's thrilling for all of us to be here to celebrate this milestone." She noted that the seeds of the project were planted in November 2013 during a strategic planning meeting at Symphony Hall in Boston.

"This occasion and these new buildings reflect the ever-present commitment to the excellence of the BSO," she commented, citing the support of BSO Board Chairwoman Susan Paine, who assumed the post last September.

Linde saluted the members of the construction team assembled for the ceremony under a tent. "Each of you has played a part in ensuring that the BSO, one of the world leaders in culture and music, will continue to be innovative in how we connect with audiences and musicians," she declared.

Volpe thanked Linde and her committee for "their vision, persistence and patience" as he compared the project to the construction of the Tanglewood Shed 80 years ago and of Ozawa Hall, completed in 1994.

"Every time I come out here, I get a real buzz," Volpe enthused. "It's amazing how quickly this all comes together."

The complex includes Studio 1, a multi-use performance and lecture space with a seating capacity of up to 300; Studios 2 and 3, two smaller rehearsal and performances spaces; and a 150-seat dining cafe intended as an informal gathering place for Tanglewood patrons to mingle with musicians.

Since the new buildings will be climate-controlled, they will be the first year-round facilities on the 524-acre Tanglewood campus and will be designed for use by the Berkshire community in the off-season.

The facilities will provide much-needed space for the performances and rehearsal activities of the Tanglewood Music Center, the orchestra's highly regarded summer training institute now centered in and around Ozawa Hall.

The BSO will also implement a new landscape design and revitalization for the grounds. Plans include "uniform strategies for documenting, maintaining, preserving and enhancing Tanglewood's horticultural assets," according to an announcement from the orchestra.

Construction began on the site last September after town permits from Stockbridge were in place. Exterior construction is slated for completion between October and December, when the building will be enclosed, heated, wired and ready for interior work and installations of furnishings.

According to the BSO, Consigli Construction has erected the 275 tons of steel during harsh winter weather with average temperatures around 25. The crew has logged 23,921 hours of work so far.

Consigli awarded nearly three-quarters of the subcontracts to Western Massachusetts firms, with 16 percent based in Berkshire County. Local subcontractors include David J. Tierney Jr., Inc and Comalli Group, electrical contractors, both in Pittsfield, as well as Dobbert Heating, Plumbing & Air Conditioning in North Adams.

Consigli, founded in 1905, has offices in Albany, N.Y.; Boston, Washington, D.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Maine and several other locations in the Northeast.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com or 413-637-2551.


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