Point Park's Dance Complex Goes Green

Pittsburgh's Point Park University is now home to a brand new green dance complex. The complex is the first of its kind to receive the country's highest award for Energy and Environmental Design. The building has features that work toward a healthier environment and healthier dancers. The Allegheny Front's Ashley Murray has more.

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OPEN: Pittsburgh's Point Park University is now home to a brand new green dance complex. The complex is the first of its kind to receive the country's highest award for Energy and Environmental Design. The building has features that work toward a healthier environment and healthier dancers. The Allegheny Front's Ashley Murray has more.

NAT SOUND: dance instructor shouting orders to class and drums in the background

MURRAY: An unusual scene unfolds in studio at Point Park University's newly constructed dance complex. Students crawl across the floor in a bunch of animal positions to the beating of drums.
Senior dance major Angela Dice says this is a Contemporary Jazz class and students are waking up their muscles.

DICE: What they're doing now is a progression, kind of on an evolutionary scale. It gets a little wild, but it gets your heartbeat pumping.

MURRAY: As the students continue to change positions on the floor to the beating drums, Dice explains this brand new studio converts to a large performance space that holds about 200 people. And just as you wouldn't expect to see dancers pretending to be amoebas, you might not expect the art of dance to be connected to green construction.

MONDOR: You might think on the surface that those diverge, but functionally, we wanted large spaces with high ceilings and sprung floors, environmentally what we wanted was a lot of daylight, control-ability of systems for humidity and for light levels.

MURRAY: That's Marc Mondor with the local consulting firm Evolve.

NAT SOUND: office, phone answering, "Good Afternoon, Evolve"

MURRAY: Evolve designs sustainable buildings and was a member of the team that constructed the new dance facilities. Mondor says right off the bat, building in a downtown area is a very green thing to do. He also points out that some of the complex's features are important for the dancer's health... Construction features like improved ventilation, large windows for optimal natural lighting along with environmentally friendly materials like low-emitting paints and adhesives.


MONDOR: The idea was to create a productive interior environment for dancers, so that quality of air coming through wouldn't be a concern. Lots of fresh air coming through because, after all, these are athletes.

NAT SOUND: Students in hallways

MURRAY:Point Park is home to a really big dance program. Students fill the halls wearing their studio attire, leotards with sweat pants, and hair tightly in a bun.

MURRAY: Dr. Paul Hennigan is the president of the university. He says that's why this new facility is so important.

HENNIGAN: Point Park University has a nationally recognized dance program and unfortunately, we did not have first-class facilities. And in order to get our studios to match the caliber of our program, we needed to build a number of studios. And so this building that we're in right now has five studios and the opportunity to put three more on the top floor.

MURRAY: Dr. Hennigan says the university is committed to sustainable design principals.

HENNIGAN: Point Park has made a very strong commitment to environmental sustainability. So all of the work we do going forward, whether it's the construction of new facilities or the renovation of old ones, we'll all take into account sustainable best practices.

NAT SOUND: Ballet class with piano music

MURRAY: Back in the dance studios, a new class is rehearsing ballet with Susan Stowe. Stowe is the chair of the Dance Department and a ballet professor. She says she the new facility has had an impact on the students.

STOWE: They respect the building. There's a certain sense of pride every time they walk into the room. They are working harder. We've always had a tremendous dance program, but now we have the facilities to match the instruction that goes on in the studios

NAT SOUND: students talking

MURRAY: Sophomore dance major Sean McIntyre agrees.

MCINTYRE: It's a lot easier to breathe, and that alone is worth it because it makes things so much easier.

MURRAY: For the Allegheny Front, I'm Ashley Murray.