The Bard College Conservatory of Music has received a $9.2-million gift from Bard alumnus László Z. Bitó, class of 1960, for the construction of The László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building.
This building will help satisfy the growing needs of the conservatory, which has grown fivefold growth since its founding in 2005. With an anticipated completion date of January 2013, The project is scheduled to begin construction in next month and to be completed by January 2013.
As designed by Deborah Berke & Partners Architects in New York City, the performance space will include a 145-seat hall that can be variously configured. It will also features one-touch audio and video recording, as well as live-streaming capability. There will be 15 teaching studios and a lounge, along with a large classroom that can also be used for audio and video recording. The project uses geothermal wells and heat pumps and follows Bard’s environmental best-practice standards.
Bitó and his wife, Olivia Carino, have also been helping the Conservatory recruit gifted students from Hungary—20 are enrolled this year. In 2009, the Bitós gave a $1.7-million gift toward the establishment of an endowment for the conservatory’s undergraduate program.
László Z. Bitó was 22 years old when he escaped from his native Hungary after the crushed revolution of 1956. He was granted asylum in the United States and came to Bard College in the winter of 1956–57. He graduated from Bard College in 1960 as a pre-med biology major and went on to obtain his doctorate from Columbia University in medical cell biology. His research led to the development of Xalatan, a drug that has saved the sight of millions of glaucoma sufferers. He has published more than 150 scientific articles and received, among many other honors, the highest recognition in the field of eye research, the Proctor Medal. Upon retiring from Columbia University as an emeritus professor of ocular physiology, he returned to Hungary and his first love of writing. Of his 14 nonscientific books—novels, essays, and three anthologies of some of his more than 100 newspaper and magazine articles—some have appeared in translations in half a dozen countries.