Genko Uchida Building

 

 
  ©1997 Greg Premru

The 58,000-square-foot, $15-million Genko Uchida building increased Berklee's educational and student-support space by nearly 20 percent, providing expanded educational facilities for the Guitar, Percussion, Piano and Ensemble departments.

Jazz Composition Chair Ken Pullig led a committee of about 35 faculty, staff, and students that began meeting in 1994 to determine how the new facility would address the campus's space needs. "Berklee has always been a place of great change and transformation, and this building is a wonderful continuation of that," Pullig said during the ceremony.

The Uchida building is the new home of the college's Student Affairs Area, bringing together a range of student services that previously had been dispersed around campus.

"With more student services in one building, access is easier for all students," said Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students Larry Bethune. "The building also provides cutting-edge classrooms, a mid-size concert hall, more computers, and the best instrumental rooms at the college."

The roots of the Uchida building project date back to 1985, when Berklee faculty members first traveled to Japan to offer music clinics. Shortly after Japanese entrepreneur Genko Uchida learned of the Berklee in Japan program, he became a financial sponsor of it, initiating a long and fruitful philanthropic relationship with the college. His $1 million donation in 1991, the largest ever made to Berklee, was earmarked for constructing a new building. When Newbury College placed its facility, at 921 Boylston Street, on the market in 1994, Berklee had the financial backing to make the purchase.

"He had a genuine commitment to promoting international understanding and goodwill by bringing young people from America and Japan together," President Berk said of Uchida, who passed away in 1996.

It is fitting that Berklee's newest facility was supported by an international sponsor, considering that the college has attracted students from around the world since its founding in 1945. Japanese students comprise about 10 percent of the current student body, a trend that began in 1957 with Berklee's first Japanese student, Toshiko Akiyoshi. Berklee officials decided that the grand opening of the Uchida building would be the perfect time to pay tribute to the acclaimed pianist, composer and bandleader by giving her an honorary Doctor of Music degree. Akiyoshi's Berklee years are detailed in a related story.