Updates on amphitheater development

Demolition begins on McGuinn and Diamond Halls for the new amphitheater.
Photo Courtesy of Kahtya Henderson.

With the demolition of Cropper, Wheatley, McGuinn and Diamond dormitories underway, room is being made for the new amphitheater. This project is focused on enhancing student life and interaction.

While the dormitories are considered a staple of Florida A&M University’s student life, the cost to renovate the dorms would be greater than to replace them.

“The historical dorms are a significant part of the University’s history. However, due to the age of the facilities along with the cost and environmental issues associated with renovating, demolition is required,” said Wanda Ford, FAMU’s chief financial officer.

Executive Associate Director for the Office of Communications Kathy Times provided the following details: 

  • The asbestos abatement began on November 5, 2018. McGuinn and Diamond Halls were completed early. 
  • Environmental firm has completed their work on Cropper and Wheatley last Friday February 8th (Diamond and McGuinn was completed earlier).
  • Demolition contractor started mobilizing on February 11th and 12th.
  • The sequence of demolition will begin with tearing into the SE corner of Cropper/Wheatley to gain access to the courtyard. Demolition will progress from east to west.
  • The electrician has already begun removing site lighting (to be reused). Lights on the perimeter of the site will remain until the end of this phase. 
  • The Amphitheater Design Development documents were presented to FAMU staff on Dec. 18th for review and comment. 
  • Project architects are currently developing the construction plans for the amphitheater.

Current students and alumni of the university have expressed their concerns about placement and need for an amphitheater. 

“I think it’s a tragedy but I feel like it’s a way to start a new legacy for the campus, however I also feel the legacy of the dorms and what they meant for FAMU should be placed on a plaque on the new amphitheater, it added history to the university that shouldn’t be erased,” said Braelyn Russell.

Russell is a junior interdisciplinary study major.

“From a historical perspective those dorms are a landmark of Florida A&M, I think the call to tear down a legacy was too easy of a decision for them to make, which can cause us to question future decisions in regards to our university,” said Reggie Mizell

Mizell is a spring 2016 graduate of Florida A&M University.

“From a financial perspective, this can be a case of sacrificing good for better, this amphitheater can increase profit from community and campus events. Hopefully this will equal a return on this investment,” Mizell said.

President Larry Robinson ensures students that although the dorms stood as a reminder of the early beginnings of FAMU, there is much to.

“This concept was suggested by your fellow students, it is an expansion of the set, but will also allow some of the activities associated with the set,” said Robinson.

Robinson said the additional parking will benefit the students and visiting guests.  

“I don’t think anyone would argue with this point, this project will allow for 100 plus additional parking spaces,” said Robinson.

“The next step would include completion of the design documents for the new stage/amphitheater parking improvements, etc.  Before commencing with the site preparation and construction phases of this project scope,” according to Times. 

As the campus of FAMU awaits its new addition, students will continue to utilize its various performing platforms throughout the campus.  

“The construction phase of the amphitheater is still yet to be determined,” according to Times.

The several places on or near campus to hosts events and student activities; Lee Hall, Foster Tanner, Al Lawson and the Grand Ballroom will continue to be utilized by the student body.