Today the campus is a chaotic combination of mud, debris, framed buildings and 150 banging and drilling construction workers. But in little more than two months, the sound of drills and hammers will be replaced by chamber music and orchestras as the joint Castle Creek campus of the Aspen Music Festival and School and Aspen Country Day School opens.
The ambitious $60 million Harry Teague-designed redevelopment, which broke ground in September, is on time and under budget, according to music festival president and CEO Alan Fletcher.
“For a project that’s this complex and that can only be built in the winter, that’s fantastic,” he said.
Local developer Scott Russell, also a Country Day parent, has acted as an owner’s representative on the project, working with the builders from Shaw Construction. He said the primary risk for glitches in the project has passed, since the foundation work and digging are done.
“Every single day has been a push,” Russell said. “And the schedule can’t change. But it’s coming together.”
In all, it will add nearly 44,000 square feet of new buildings to the rustic 23-acre campus by fall.
“It’s going to be a real campus,” said Bob Hurst, board chair of the music festival and school, and a Country Day parent, on a tour of the property last week.
The shared campus is used by the music school during the summer months and Country Day during the school year. Country Day has relocated its 200 students to Aspen Meadows this year, during campus construction. The music school will be the first to use the campus, when its students arrive in June.
The project has been in development for more than six years and was approved by the Pitkin County commissioners in 2008. The need for improvements there has been increasingly evident in recent years. One building there was condemned in 2011, due to mold and poor structure.
The centerpiece of the redeveloped campus is three new buildings situated on the rejuvenated Great Pond — currently drained — lapping beneath them.
Two of the buildings are large rehearsal halls that can house a full music school orchestra. One, named Scanlan Hall for Country Day parents Mary and Patrick Scanlan, will double as Country Day’s visual arts center. The other, Edlis Neeson Hall, named for music school patrons Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, also will host orchestra rehearsals and will double as the drama room for Country Day. The third building, between those two, will hold classrooms and bathrooms. All include large windows overlooking the pond.
The campus previously had just one rehearsal hall that could hold a full orchestra. The additions, Fletcher said, are key for an institution that hosts four orchestras and an opera company.
Teague, who also designed Harris Hall and the Benedict Music Tent, enlisted an acoustics consultant to ensure that sound quality in the practice halls will be on par with those world-class performance halls.
“This is going to transform our ability to do our work,” Fletcher said.
Four pods of private sound-proof practice areas for music students also are spread throughout the property, totaling 76 separate rooms.
An 18,756-square-foot lower school building is set to open in September — the exterior finishing in May, with interior work ongoing through the summer. It includes four classrooms on its second story, nine on its ground floor and a large common area.
“This part we’re really excited about,” said Carolyn Hines, director of advancement and communications for Country Day. “We’ve never had a place where the whole school could gather.”
A riverside “wildlands play area” is going in beside that building.
Along with the new buildings, the campus redesign will allow easier traffic flow off of Castle Creek Road, though no cars from the public will be permitted across the creek to the center campus. Two new bridges crossing Castle Creek, however, will allow fire engines to access the center campus for the first time.
Later, less dramatic phases of the project will add a new dining hall and a new gymnasium/rehearsal hall, and renovate an administration building. Those are set to wrap up in 2015.
Being relocated to the Meadows for the school year also led to at least one policy change for Country Day. The school sought to reduce traffic from parents dropping off students in the residential West End neighborhood by subsidizing buses and adding new routes.
Teachers reported an average of 10 to 15 minutes of additional instruction time, Hines said, created from students arriving early on buses.
As a result, the Country Day board voted last week to devote $60,000 toward keeping the free extended bus service going.