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Green Room Facelift Adds to Ambience

New furniture attracts students, builds sense of community

by Ally Van Deuren (B.F.A. Theatre, B.A. Journalism, ’15)

Meadows performing arts students arrived back to school in August to quite a pleasant surprise in their home away from home.

“Home” being the Meadows basement, and even more specifically, the “green room,” the very hub of social activity for Meadows performing artists during their four years of training at SMU.

“I think what’s really cool and unique about [a green room] being at an arts school is that it has the opportunity to be the center of community interdisciplinary gathering,” junior theatre major Ryan-Patrick McLaughlin said.

“It’s a place where you can see other artists,” added Emily Bernet, a sophomore dance major.

When Director of Meadows Facilities Jay Hengst revamped the first and second floors of the building several years ago, he decided it was time to upgrade the green room.

“This time it was just getting so filthy and dirty and we were in the process of a multiyear project to replace the hallway floors throughout the building,” said Hengst, who propsed the idea to José Bowen, dean of Meadows School of the Arts. “I wanted to rip out the built-ins and completely redesign and rethink that space.”

Hengst, who joined the Meadows staff in 1997, said that the green room and its adjacent classroom, B430, had remained the same ever since he started working here. While he had replaced the carpet in that area every few years, he decided that it was time for a full restoration.

“It’s a place where prospective students go when they audition and it wasn’t very welcoming,” Hengst said. “All three performing arts programs are excellent, so I wanted the facilities to reflect that as well.”

Hengst and his team took out the carpet in the green room and replaced the floors throughout the entire basement. He also decided to replace the carpet in B430 with hardwood floors to keep the room more sanitary.

In addition to the floor changes, there are now brightly colored couches and tables located in the green room where students can study or grab a bite to eat in between classes.

“It’s good to have a place where everybody can be in the same area and just decompress before or after class,” sophomore dance major Alison Glander said.

Hengst said that depending on the budget, he would eventually like to take out the fluorescent lights and put in new light fixtures. He has high hopes to refinish the floors in the Kathy Bates Studio as well as another neighboring classroom, B150, both in the basement.

In the meantime, Meadows students are pleased with the basement makeover.

“The green room represents the arts school,” McLaughlin said. “New furniture seems simple and materialistic, but really I think it can point to being a great way of creating better community within the arts school.”

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