GLEN ELLYN – After millions of dollars and more than a year of construction, College of DuPage’s McAninch Arts Center ended 2013 by opening its doors to the public with a sneak peek during its annual New Year’s Eve concerts.
The $35 million, 14-month project included the renovation of the main performance hall, the construction of a new art gallery, the replacement of classroom equipment and furniture and more.
“I think they’re going to see a total transformation of the building,” said Senior Project Manager David Lesniak.
The project was paid for by a $168 million referendum passed by voters in November 2010, according to the College of DuPage website. The referendum also funded the renovation of the Physical Education Center, Student Resource Center and Seaton Computing Center and construction of the Campus Maintenance Center.
“We are extremely thankful to the people of this district for supporting the referendum that provided the essential funding for this spectacular renovation,” COD President Robert Breuder said in a news release.
The McAninch Arts Center or MAC began its new stage of life at the New Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve concerts, which served as a homecoming for the orchestra after more than a year away.
The event allowed members of the public to get a preview of the center before it opens for classes mid-January. COD will host an official grand opening celebration March 8 featuring Second City and COD alumnus Jim Belushi.
The MAC renovation project began in October 2012. It was designed by Wight and Co., the original architecture firm behind the building’s construction in 1986. Mortenson Construction performed the renovations.
The main theater at the MAC was completely overhauled, with new seats and decorative elements and improved acoustics, Lesniak said.
Classrooms received new equipment, according to Lesniak. Bathrooms also were redone, and windows were replaced throughout the building to be more energy-efficient.
An addition was built to house the new Cleve Carney Art Gallery, named for the late Glen Ellyn art collector and philanthropist, Lesniak said. The space will feature heated floors, which help provide a controlled environment for artwork.
The project also opened the lobby on the first floor of the MAC, which features a new concession area and a brighter color scheme, to give patrons more room, according to Lesniak.
“This is an exciting time for lovers of the performing arts,” MAC Interim Executive Director Diana Martinez said in the release. “The MAC has always had a strong reputation, but with updated performance spaces and public areas and a new art gallery, the MAC promises to be ‘the’ destination to experience the visual and performing arts in the western suburbs.”
The MAC had undergone no major renovations since it was built more than 25 years ago, Lesniak said, adding there have been some targeted upgrades to certain spaces, based on user needs.
Work was needed to bring the performance areas up to the same level as what is often found on other college campuses, he said. COD also wanted to make the space more enjoyable for patrons and to provide students with the best facility for their learning needs, Lesniak added.
Although the New Year’s Eve sneak peek has passed, community members will have additional opportunities to experience the new MAC before its grand opening in March.
The Cleve Carney Art Gallery will unveil its first exhibit, “Selection of Artworks from the Cleve Carney Collection,” on Feb. 6 before it is formally dedicated Feb. 16. An upcoming performance includes Grammy Award-winner Keb’ Mo’ on Feb. 8.
If you go
What: McAninch Arts Center Grand Opening Celebration and Madness Benefit When: 6 p.m. March 8 Where: College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn Cost: $44 for adults, $42 for seniors, $32 for youth for performance More information: www.atthemac.org