Hunter College’s quaint new space, Baker Hall, is located just a block away and is booming with possibilities for the Theatre Department.
Baker Hall, located at 151 E 67th Street (between Lexington and 3rd Avenues), has opened its doors this year for Hunter College’s theatre classes. The newly renovated brown-stone is a promising space welcoming creativity, a part of the school’s ever expanding campus, a new space to build community for the Theatre Department. The 26,000-square foot building holds six floors of clean, new classrooms and places for students to lounge, for meetings to take place and for the arts to flourish. The Baker Building is named after Patty and Jay Baker who donated $15 million to Hunter to purchase the building for the theatre department. Now a welcome edition to Hunter College’s campus, the building had previously been home to a school owned by the Archdiocese of New York, the Kennedy Child Study Center. Because of this, the building’s sale required Vatican approval.
The Bakers’ ties to Hunter date back to when Patty attended the school and its theatre course sparked her interest in the arts- she’s now an honored Broadway producer. Her husband, Jay Baker, is the retired president of Kohl’s. The hefty donation has given the department a new space to impact the theatre program, to build a community beyond Hunter’s loud and crowded doors. “In general it is very exciting to have a space to centralize all our activity and it will be great for building community. Theatre thrives in environments where activity and people are able to work together. We are looking forward to many ideas for future renovation and how the building may be connected to the campus and offer spaces that will really serve all types of activity from design to rehearsal to performance”, Professor Louisa Thompson Pregorson of the Theatre Department stated.
Baker Hall is a quieter home for students in contrast to Hunter College’s main campus which is always packed and bustling. Nestled away on a one-way street, the distant sound of cars is the extent of the noise that rings through the building. “I like having class here so far. It’s more spacious as compared to Hunter, but I’ve noticed that there aren’t a lot of classes here, it’s quite empty”, Karen Galo, a theatre student, noted. Indeed, the inside of the building looks and feels nothing like the usual school atmosphere, and nothing but quiet is heard, a calm that’s unparalleled to the usual bustle of the college’s main buildings. From the carpeted stairs, to the quaint white classrooms and tiny restrooms with quirky wooden doors, the space is a breath of fresh air booming with possibilities. One tiny, out-of-service elevator and a place for students to lounge, greet people as they enter the space, reminiscent of a quiet office rather than a busy school. Still being renovated, the plain white walls of the classrooms are booming with possibilities and ideas for future prospects for the department.
“The elevator doesn’t work in the building so that’s inconvenient, but the classrooms themselves are nice, the new desks are clean and comfortable. It’s a nice space”, says theatre student Khristina J Williams with a calm smile.