Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Edward E. Cohen Arts Center, 1955
|The Edward E. Cohen Arts Center was constructed in 1955 to serve as a permanent home to arts and music at Tufts University. It was named for Edward E. Cohen, a Boston industrialist and philanthropist, who was also a major donor to the School of Medicine.
The Cohen Arts Center was built over the summer of 1955 at a cost of over one million dollars. Edward Cohen donated over $300,000 of the money used to build the center, the rest coming from a Jackson alumni drive. Arland A. Dirlam, E1926, was the architect who designed the building. The center was constructed to house music, art, and drama facilities, all three of which had long been neglected at the university. Music had previously been housed on Boston Avenue, in the same building as a number of engineering laboratories, and Fine Arts had occupied one small room in Ballou Hall. The new facility provided office space, classrooms, an art gallery, and a 628 seat auditorium. Alumnae Hall, completed soon after Cohen, connects the Arts Center to Jackson Gym, the former location of the Department of Dance.
In 1991, the Cohen Arts Center was completely remodeled. In a nine-million dollar project, classrooms were added to the downstairs level, a sculpture gallery was built, and the Balch Arena Theater was installed in the facility. With the renovations came a new name for the building. In a formal rededication ceremony in 1991, the name was changed to the Shirley and Alex Aidekman Arts Center, recognizing the support of the Aidekman family in paying for renovations to the building. Cohen, however, remains the namesake for the auditorium located inside. The entire building still serves as home to the Department of Drama and Dance, and also houses most of the classrooms used by the Department of Music.