Music, Recording and Production Campus and Studios
Outgrowing Our Downtown Minneapolis Campus
By late 2009, it had become clear that we were outgrowing our original space on Washington Ave. The campus had opened in July of 2002 and grew to encompass almost fifty-thousand square feet in both the Jackson and Colonial Buildings, on the corner of Washington and 3rd Avenue North in Minneapolis’ North-Loop neighborhood. Site of the original Master Mix Studios, Metro, Oarfin Records and Burr Holland, there was a lot of musical and technological history in these two buildings. The basement of the Colonial Building once hosted practice spaces for some of Minneapolis’ top performing acts and no less than two floors of the Jackson building were virtual “boneyards” of space-age electronics equipment (most of which looked like it belonged in the cabin of Vostok 1) for the aptly-named Acme Electronics. Cue the Wile E. Coyote reference here.
A Building with History
Unfortunately, the same vintage that made that history possible also presented some major obstacles in terms of growth for the school. Many of the studio facilities had been built years prior and were in need of updates, not so much in terms of equipment, but in terms of acoustics and infrastructure. IPR had grown into the space quickly and organically and had made the best with what was available (the best being quite good). The aging heating and air conditioning systems and drafty windows made keeping the building comfortable a full-time job and achieving isolation between classrooms difficult, at best. Narrow column spacing made the construction of classrooms with good site-lines another challenge altogether. On more than one occasion, a heavy rain meant wet carpet in the admissions offices.
With a busy operating facility, inhabited by students and creative projects twenty-four hours a day at almost 360 days of every year, the impending overhaul would be difficult at-best. The upper floors of the Jackson Building were “cold storage”, meaning nothing be way of working HVAC, electrical or plumbing. It was with all of this in mind that we began the process of searching for a new location.
The Search Begins
Over the course of 2 years, we must have walked through more than two-million square feet of commercial property with real-estate expert Mark Young. Finding a space with the size to accomodate growth and the physical features to support the construction of commercial quality, modern production facilities was a unique challenge that took us everywhere from the Calhoun-Lakes area, the site of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, to the former Jaguar dealership on Hennepin Avenue. We knew we required something not only capable of supporting the physical features of our facility, but also something with character. Even more importantly, it needed to be convenient and accessible to the many IPR students who relocate from all over the country to attend one of the best media arts schools in the country.
The Start of Something New
Finally, in November of 2011, a deal was struck and a lease signed for IPR’s new location at 300 North First Ave, ironically, less-than four short blocks from the previous campus, but that’s a story for a later date. In future installments we’ll discuss the arduous process of designing, constructing and outfitting the new facilities, but for now we’ll leave you with a sneak-peak preview of what the campus has to offer.
If don’t see the slideshow, check it out on IPR’s Flickr.