Ardrey Auditorium to let in fresh air in on its fresh digs
By Clark Mindock
After a nearly year-long renovation, Ardrey Memorial Auditorium is back and ready to show off. The renovations commenced with the Take a Seat Campaign, an effort to replace the 40-year-old seats that had previously occupied the auditorium.
Without the Take a Seat Campaign, renovations did not seem feasible for the auditorium.
“We were actually on the docket for speed funding to get the whole building renovated back in 2008,” said Kathleen Battalli, Program Coordinating Senior at Ardrey. “Then the state pulled [speed funding] when the recession hit. Following that event the Michael Vincent, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, came up with a plan to have a donation drive for the chairs.”
Due to building code requirements, which would have been violated if the new chairs were installed without further renovations, NAU and the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) act stepped in with further funding for bringing the whole building up to code. The donation drive then provided the much-needed remaining funds.
The last time Ardrey had made improvements to meet ADA requirements was in the early 1990s.
According to a press release from the College of Arts and Letters, the renovations boast 1,340 new seats, improved handicap accessibility, a new north ramp entrance and a modernized infrastructure, allowing for improved lighting and sound.
The project cost an estimated $7.5 million, including previously raised funds from the Take a Seat Campaign.
“I heard it’s completely different inside [and] looks like a whole new place,” said freshman choral music education major Haylee Abney. “I’m excited to be a part of all of the awesome changes that are going on.”
The auditorium will reopen this Sept. 15 with a grand-reopening gala concert, curating seven performances that evening. Performances include the NAU Symphony Orchestra, NAU Opera and NAU Choral Union and Orchestra. The gala is free, first-come, first-serve and starts at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening and ribbon cutting at 7 p.m..
Yearly, the auditorium hosts nearly 45,000 patrons and more than 150 events. Notable past performances have included Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Lee, the Vienna Boys Choir, Itzak Perlman and Willie Nelson.