On May 13, 2011, Butler University (BU) broke ground for the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts.  Schrott served as Emmis Communications’ CFO from 1991 to 1999. He was serving as CFO of South Carolina-based Liberty Corp. in 2006 when Alabama-based Raycom Media bought it for $987 million. Schrott had shares in Liberty, owner of 15 TV stations, worth more than $6 million. His gift of $6.5 million led to the building, which Schrott recalled as a need when he was a student in 1976.  Schrott, whose previous gifts to the university included the endowment for the Howard Schrott Lecture Series for the College of Communications and the Master Control Room in the Fairbanks Center for Communication and Technology, majored in radio and television broadcasting with a minor in business administration. Schrott was a member of the Butler University jordan college of the arts Board of Visitors before becoming a BU Board of Trustees member.

Schrott Center for the Arts stage, n.d. Credit: Butler University View Source

The Schrott Center is the main performance venue for the Butler Theatre, Butler Ballet, and Butler School of Music. Designed to create an intimate experience for the performers and audience, the theater seats 415 to 451 patrons (while BU’s larger venue Clowes Memorial Hall seats about 2,000). A mere 70 feet separates the last row of seats from the proscenium (the part of the stage in front of the curtain).

Along with the lobby, green room, and dressing rooms for supporting theatrical performances, the 35,500-square-foot building also includes gallery space for displaying two-and three-dimensional student art. With the building’s relationship to the other campus buildings in mind, Indianapolis-based Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects selected precast concrete panels in buff and Indiana limestone veneer in an ashlar pattern for the exterior. Most of the approximately 70 architectural precast panels are more than 45 feet tall, while the approximately 64 structural precast panels are about 52.5 feet tall. The mass of the panels prevents unwanted noise from reaching the stage house and audience chamber.

Charles Bonner, president of acoustic-consulting company BAi of Texas, designed the acoustics and listened to Jordan College of the Arts ensembles to make the final adjustments. Bonner created an interior with the rectangular shape of a concert hall and the sharply inclined seats of a theater to accommodate the variety of events held in the space. The $15-million Schrott Center officially opened on April 18, 2013.

The U.S. Green Building Council awarded LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification to the performance hall. Categories used in determining a certification are sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design. Compared to other typical buildings of its size, the Schrott Center uses 22 percent less energy and 55 percent less water. The energy-and water-efficient features include a white roof to reflect heat, low-flow restroom fixtures, and dual-pane insulated windows. Other environmentally friendly practices include cleaning surface runoff water in a bioretention pond in an on-site rain garden and using 6,500 cubic yards of earth moved during construction as fill on a Zionsville horse farm.

The Schrott Center is one of the venues that make up the Butler Arts and Events Center, which includes Clowes Memorial Hall, Shelton Auditorium, Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, and Lilly Hall Studio Theatre.

Revised June 2021

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