Fred Bronstein, dean of Peabody Institute, is looking at the historic campus in a whole new way. “In 2019, we took a fresh look at the strategic plan, and it was clear that we wanted to and needed to refocus on our campus,” Bronstein says. “We are growing programmatically and with enrollment, and there will come a time when our campus may not be able to support this growth.”
To address the widening gap between what the Mt. Vernon campus can accommodate and what Peabody is — and will be — in the coming decades, Bronstein and a Peabody team, in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins facilities team, are viewing existing facilities and future needs through the lens of the student residential life experience on campus.
“Redefining our campus can be transformational for a school so strong programmatically,” Bronstein says. “At Peabody, we meld innovation with tradition, which is not easy to do in our field. We now need to do that with our historic campus.”
Last spring, Hord Coplan Macht, an architecture and planning firm specializing in educational institutions, conducted a pre-study. “Right now, we’re asking preliminary questions about whether our existing footprint can handle our planned growth, or if we need to expand or reconfigure that footprint,” Bronstein says. This study was shared with an initial group of faculty, staff members, and students for input.
This academic year begins a larger programmatic assessment to determine exact space, programmatic, and student needs, followed by a formal study to be approved by the university trustees. Each step, Bronstein says, includes deep conversations with Peabody constituencies as well as university leadership.
His orchestral background — an accomplished pianist, Bronstein served as president of the St. Louis Symphony, Omaha Symphony, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra prior to joining Peabody — affords him a unique perspective.
“Sometimes in the arts world, institutions build buildings and then think about programming and how people will inhabit them,” he says. “We’re doing this through the lens of examining what our program is and is expected to be in the coming decades, and then determining what facilities and spaces we need to support that vision. It’s the right time to do this.”