Creative Space

Carleton’s recently opened Weitz Center for Creativity is an innovative setting for creativity and collaboration in the liberal arts

Reinvention is a constant when it comes to creativity. So it’s fitting that Carleton’s new Weitz Center for Creativity is itself a symbol of reinvention and renewal.

The College purchased the former Northfield Middle School in 2005 and set out to preserve as much as possible of the historic 1910 building and its 1934 and 1954 additions. It hired the Minneapolis architecture firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, which is known nationally for its work repurposing old buildings. Following demolition, renovation, and new construction, the Weitz Center is now 134,000 square feet of performance, rehearsal, exhibition, teaching, and collaboration space. Here Carleton students can prepare for a future in which visual imagery, multimedia, and interactive technologies will be an integral part of interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

The Carleton and Northfield communities celebrated the Weitz Center’s opening in September, as students and faculty and staff members settled in to make the space their own.

Weitz Center: Braucher Gallery
Braucher Gallery in the Perlman Teaching Museum

The Braucher Gallery’s inaugural exhibit was Seeing Is Knowing: The Universe—a collection of art inspired by astronomy. Here, students from physics professor Cindy Blaha’s cosmology seminar reflect on objects from the perspective of someone unlike themselves, such as a senior citizen or a parent with a five-year-old child. Later, they wrote a poem, limerick, or haiku based on their reflections. The Perlman Teaching Museum, which more than doubles Carleton’s former art gallery space, consists of two galleries—the Braucher Gallery and the Kaemmer Family Gallery—plus storage space and a classroom.

Weitz Center Entrance
Weitz Center for Creativity entrance

The north façade of the Weitz Center for Creativity faces the main campus, which is about two blocks away. The Perlman Teaching Museum is at left; the theater is on the right.

stairway
Stairway and rail

Contractors restored the wrought iron detailing on this original 1910 staircase.

Weitz Center: Drawing Hallway
Hallway outside the Craine Drawing Studio

Students frequently gather in this hallway just outside the studio to draw, critique one another’s work, and stage mini-exhibitions. The walls here are covered with a surface that allows artists to easily hang their work.

Weitz Center: Interactive Classroom
Class of 1960 Interactive Classroom

Professor Jeffrey Ondich teaches “Computer Organization and Architecture” in the interactive classroom. This flexible space encourages faculty members to explore new ways of teaching. During fall term, the classroom was used for courses ranging from computer science and economics to biology and political science.

Weitz Center Cinema
Cinema

Located on the site of the former middle school’s auditorium, the 250-seat cinema features the largest screen on campus and a THX-quality sound system; it will be used for class-related and community screenings. When classes are in session, students gather here on weekends to watch popular movies courtesy of SUMO (the Student Union Movie Organization).

Weitz Center Hallway & Elevator
Hallway

Visitors will notice a creative blend of modern construction with elements from the historic Northfield Middle School. The 1910 building’s original foundation is visible in this hallway on the lower level; the elevator bank is paneled with bleacher planks recovered from the middle school’s gymnasium.

Weitz Center: Lab Classroom
Lab classroom

John Schott, the James Woodward Strong Professor of Liberal Arts, teaches a graphic design course in this laboratory classroom, which features upgraded audio, projectors, and screen. When class isn’t in session, students can drop in to use the specialized software on the classroom’s widescreen iMac computers.

Weitz Center Dance Studio
Dance studio

Carleton’s dance department—once split between studios in Cowling Gymnasium and the Recreation Center—has been united in the Weitz Center. These ballet students are using the smaller of the two new dance studios. The larger studio can be converted into performance space with a retractable seating grid and hosts the Semaphore Repertory Dance Company.

Weitz Center Costume Shop
Costume shop

Students work with costume designer and Carleton staff member Mary Ann Kelling to prepare costumes for The Tempest.

Weitz Center Commons
Class of 1980 Commons

Students and faculty members meet in the commons for conversation and a cup of coffee from the café. The comfortable lounge furniture or one of the tables overlooking Northfield’s Central Park are a great place to relax or study. About the size of Sayles-Hill Great Space, the commons also is used for faculty and staff retreats, special dinners for campus guests, and community parties.

Weitz Center: IdeaLab
The Gage/Bauer IdeaLab

Faculty members and students seek help from IdeaLab staffers for a variety of projects, typically those that have an audiovisual component. The IdeaLab offers a combination of specialized technology and on-site experts, including computing specialists, reference and instruction librarians, exhibition experts, and a media and design specialist. Visitors can drop in to get advice and to use equipment on site, or they may borrow digital cameras and video or audio recorders. 

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