By Jessica Mize
The Cougars’ inaugural football season in TDECU Stadium might be in the books, but big things are still happening in the new structure, as the finishing touches are put on the Bert F. Winston Jr. Band Complex.
Occupying 22,400 square feet on the Cullen Boulevard side of the stadium, the complex features three rehearsal halls, a music library, built-in storage sized for specific instruments, a student lounge and office space for band, cheer and dance personnel. More than 200 instruments have already been moved in and secured in the new space.
“The sheer size of the large rehearsal room is one of the most important features of this space,” said Katherine Miller, interim executive director for Facilities Planning and Construction. “Not only is it large enough to house the entire marching band, members of the cheer team and Cougar Dolls all at once, it also features optimized acoustics to control sound transmission and reverberation time.”
The two additional rehearsal halls are also great assets, as the University bands and the Moores School of Music now have more practice space than ever before.
“This space is so wonderful,” said David Bertman, director of the band, cheer and dance programs. “Not only can we accommodate various sized groups and bands that need to practice, but there will also be space for teacher trainings, academic music classes and more.”
Another great feature of the complex is that the space will be equipped with uniform storage and a commercial-size washer and dryer, which will allow the band to wash their own uniforms in-house – something they’ve never had the luxury of doing before.
“It’s going to be great to be able to do our own laundry,” said Carol Risinger, office coordinator for the band. “In the past, we had to use a professional cleaning service, but now our fraternities will handle it all. It’s really going to be a cost-saver.”
While the bulk of the band, cheer and dance operations will now take place out of the new space, they will still have an office in the Moores School of Music, to help keep them connected for annual events like the band invitational, which takes place in the opera house and Cougar Band Camp, which takes place every summer.
That still leaves a great deal of office and storage space in the school that can now be used by other groups and members of the music school.
“The college has been outgrowing the Moores School of Music space for some time,” said Bertman. “This move will not only make our operations more efficient, but it will allow for better use of space.”
In addition to helping with current operations, Marc Martin, associate director of University bands, believes the new facilities will help immensely with recruiting not only for the marching band and Moores School of Music, but for the school as a whole.
“About half of our marching band comprises students who aren’t music majors, so individuals from across the University will be utilizing this complex and these great new features,” said Martin. “Also, prospective students visiting campus for Cougar Band Camp, the band invitational and other campus events will get a glimpse at what’s available to them, should they decide to become Cougars down the line. I know it’s going to make a huge difference for UH as a whole.”
As the work winds down on the space, Bertman and his team have done walk-throughs to ensure the final product is what they envisioned.
“The contractors and UH’s Facilities Planning and Construction have gone out of their way to ensure the facilities have everything we need and more,” Bertman said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the work we’ve seen so far and can’t wait to see the final product.”