Wolfe Center: where arts can meet, flourish

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The arts have the power to take the breath away—to stop people in their tracks and cause them to rethink their assumptions.

The new Wolfe Center for the Arts at Bowling Green State University will provide a space on campus where the arts can flourish and robust collaborations between them can take root. Like Hemingway’s “clean, well-lighted space,” the building itself will offer an environment conducive to creativity and synergistic partnerships.

In addition to being a place for students and faculty to learn and work on theatrical, dance, musical, film and digital arts productions, the center will offer the community an exceptional venue in which to see a wide range of performances.

Designed by the international architectural firm Snøhetta, based in Oslo, Norway, the Wolfe Center will feature an abundance of natural light and open, welcoming public areas and functional work areas. A number of green initiatives have been included in the building design to reduce energy costs and make use of environmentally friendly paints and finishes.

The architects say they have taken their inspiration from the smooth planes of the northwest Ohio landscape, with its far horizons and big sky. At about 93,000 square feet, the building will be large enough for classes and rehearsals while providing performance, design and office space. It will also be the new home of the Department of Theatre and Film, currently housed in the aging South Hall.

In contrapoint to the gently angled walls of the building, a tall, vertical “fly tower” above the 400-seat main theater will allow the use of more extensive scenery and backdrops than in other campus theaters. The tower will serve as a visual symbol of the collaborative arts on campus.

The timing of the construction of the center is opportune, given that the arts have recently been named as Bowling Green’s first center of excellence, in response to the new University System of Ohio requirement that state colleges and universities identify their distinctive areas of strength. The University’s thriving arts programs will now have an impressive additional home with room to grow.

Emerging from the green space on the site of the former Saddlemire Student Services Building, the Wolfe Center will bridge the College of Musical Arts and the Fine Arts Center. A glassed-in walkway across the building will suggest the connection between the Fine Arts Center and the Moore Musical Arts Center.

Construction is projected to begin in 2009, with completion in 2011. The cost is estimated at $40 million, including the roadway and parking ($2.5 million). Generous leadership for the project was provided by Frederic and Mary Wolfe of Perrysburg. Another major gift, from Thomas and Kathleen Donnell of Findlay, will support the construction of the main theater. Most of the remainder of the cost will come from state capital appropriations.

The Collaborative, a Toledo-based firm, is the local partner on the project, and Ryan Miller of the campus design and construction office is the project manager.

To learn more about the award-winning architects, visit
http://www.snoarc.no/#. For more detail on the Wolfe Center, visit


(Posted August 11, 2008 )

Updated: 12/02/2017 01:12AM