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Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI, USA 48197
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Historic Tour > Virtual Tour > Quirk Dramatic Arts Building

Quirk Dramatic Arts Building

Historic Name(s): Quirk Dramatic Arts Building

Quirk Dramatic Arts Building

Quirk Dramatic Arts Building

Date constructed: 1959. Rededicated September 22, 1984

Architect: Smith, Hinchman, & Grylls of Detroit

Style of Architecture: International/Modern

Original Use: Theater and dramatic arts building

Dates of renovation: 1984 added the Sponberg Theater

Current Use: Communication and Theater Arts Department

History: Quirk Dramatic Arts Building was named for Daniel L. Quirk, Jr., a member of one of the founding families of Ypsilanti and a philanthropist who not only supported EMU but also was patron of the little Theater movement in Ypsilanti. When it opened, newspapers called Quirk Dramatic Arts Building the “most modern building of its kind”.

The theater was originally built for the Department of English and Speech and included a theater with seating for 400, classrooms, television and radio studios, and an outdoor amphitheater. Journalists also praised the exterior design. One viewer stated that “The theater is severe in outline, following classical architectural lines as interpreted by contemporary art”.

Harold E. Sponberg

Harold E. Sponberg

Today, the austerity of the modern style speaks clearly, even if the classical elements appear non-existent. Architecture of this period sought beauty through simplicity and a minimum of ornament. Indeed the most dominant feature of the building is the multi-story, windowless rectangle of the backstage area.

The Department of English and Speech became the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts in 1963. In 1984, Quirk was updated with significant renovations and the addition of the Sponberg Theater. Harold E. Sponberg, for whom the theater was named, served as president from 1965-1974. The new theater contained 200-seats with a lowered stage. This type of stage system allowed students and professors more flexibility in stage design and directing choices. Other changes and improvements included inclosing the existing theater, expanded the scene and costume shops, updated the radio and television studio, and improved accessibility for the handicapped.

Location - Quirk Dramatic Arts Building


Location of Quirk Dramatic Arts Building (Click on the image for a bigger view)