Gentleman … look around you at the gifts of God, the
clear sky, the pure air, the tender grass, the birds; nature is
beautiful and sinless, and we, only we, are godless and foolish,
and we don’t understand that life is a paradise, for we have
only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all its
beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep.

Laura Wong

— Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Brothers
Karamazov”

 

The Nichols Arboretum, the serene,
tree-filled enclave located east of the University Medical Center,
is about to get a new addition. In May, construction will be
complete on a public amphitheater that will replace an unused
parking lot on the edge of the Arb. The University and Ann Arbor
community should welcome the addition of this new facility.

The construction of the new amphitheater does not harm any of
the natural features that make the Arb special; it replaces a
parking lot that has been unused since the 1980s. Previously, the
staff of the Arb utilized the lot to store woodchips, stones and
soil.

The construction of the theater was funded entirely by
donations. A generous, but anonymous benefactor provided the
majority of funding, while local firms provided vital construction
services. Without the support of these individuals and companies,
this valuable addition to the Ann Arbor community would not have
been possible.

Designed by students in the Taubman College of Architecture and
Urban Planning, under the direction of Steve Badanes, a visiting
professor from the University of Washington, the stage will be
built of cedar wood and fiberglass, while spectators will be able
to lounge on a gently sloping hill to watch events. Curved cedar
planks, adding an artistic flair, will cover the structure. The
actual stage will be 375 square feet in area, with a grass field in
front that can serve as extra space for performance. The theatre
will be isolated from the rest of the Arb by a row of trees,
providing a scenic backdrop for any performances.

While enjoying the live entertainment at the amphitheater,
patrons will be able to savor the sweet scent of the pine trees and
bask in the glory of the summer sun. Surrounded by strategically
placed shrubs and flowers, people will be able to become one with
nature and enjoy the thrills of the warmer seasons.

The Arb not only protects and preserves the environment, but
also helps people gain greater appreciation for gifts provided by
nature. The addition of an amphitheater to the Arb promises to
entice more people into visiting one of Ann Arbor’s premier
attractions.

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