Wayne State’s renovation of Peterson Fine Arts Building to elevate music programs


Wayne State College has announced the renovation of the Peterson Fine Arts Building, the home of the College’s music and theater programs. 

Built in 1963, the infrastructure of the building has remained relatively unchanged, although standards for acoustics and accessibility have changed significantly.

A renovation ceremony to recognize initial donors and celebrate the start of construction will take place during Wayne State’s Homecoming on Friday, Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. on the southeast side of the building. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Student Center Atrium.

The improvements that make up this $11.9 million renovation, which includes an addition to provide new band and choir rehearsal spaces, aim to attract high-quality student and professional artists. The renovation also will make it possible for Wayne State’s performing arts programs to meet current industry standards for acoustics and accessibility, enhancing cultural arts opportunities for the campus and surrounding communities.

The Wayne State Department of Music provides programs in music education, music industry, music performance, general music, and a minor in music. The department boasts 100 students engaged in its majors and minors and is open to all participants. Approximately 200 students across 60 programs of study participate in the music ensembles, which represents more than 50% growth in the number of students pursuing majors and minors and ensemble participants during the past 15 years. Wayne State College continues to have the second largest collegiate marching band in the state.

“The advantages to having superior facilities for rehearsing and performing music cannot be overstated,” said Dr. David Bohnert, WSC Professor and Director of Bands. “Not only do they keep participants safe by conforming to national standards for hearing health, but they also play a significant role in recruiting and retaining quality students and elevating the performance level of our student musicians. As one of the most active facilities on campus, the Peterson Fine Arts Building regularly brings students, faculty, staff, and the community together in exploring the arts at WSC.”

The renovation will include a 12,000 square-foot addition of new rehearsal spaces for the bands and choirs with professional acoustics, as well as improved acoustics in the practice rooms and teaching studios. The project will also include upgrades to the college’s 600-seat Ramsey Theatre, home of the WSC Black and Gold Performing Arts Series, to support larger acts and productions. Improvements in overall accessibility will include an expanded atrium for receptions with a new central elevator, a ramp to Ramsey stage, family restroom, and additional seating for spectators with mobility limitations.

Project construction began in September, with completion estimated for November 2022. The Wayne State Foundation is raising $1.3 million to support the project.

To learn more about the project, view photos of the proposed renovation, or to donate online, visit www.wsc.edu/foundation.

For information about fundraising or making a gift, contact Kevin Armstrong, CEO of the Wayne State Foundation, at (402) 375-7534 or kearmst1@wsc.edu. For information about the renovation or project details, contact Dr. David Bohnert, Professor and Director of Bands, at (402) 375-7363 or dabohne1@wsc.edu.