Performing Arts Center

The Performing Arts Center project is a collaboration between the Colleges and Gund Partnership of Cambridge, Massachusetts, an architectural design firm that specializes in work for educational institutions.

The design approach to the Performing Arts Center has been holistic:

  • It's scale is appropriate for the site,

  • The design, while modern, is complementary to the surroundings, especially the historic character of nearby Medbery and Coxe Halls

  • It speaks to the 21st Century, especially in the inclusion of design strategies and materials that best serve the multiple uses of the building, and

  • The specifications and attention to sustainable design will result in LEED Silver Certification, at a minimum, once the construction is complete.
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Meet our partners at Gund


Graham is President of GUND Partnership which he founded in 1971. His work has received wide critical acclaim and professional recognition, and has brought the firm more than one hundred awards for design excellence. Graham is active with the New England cultural arts and architecture communities. He is a Trustee of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and of the Institute of Contemporary Art, a former Director of the Boston Society of Architects, and the former Chairman of the Boston Foundation for Architecture.

On a national level, he is a member of both the National Committee on Design and of the distinguished College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, and serves as a Trustee for both the National Building Museum and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Graham was educated at Kenyon College, pursued postgraduate study at the Rhode Island School of Design, and received a Master of Architecture and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He also holds several honorary degrees. As Design Principal, Graham is committed to overseeing every aspect of the design process.


Laura is a recognized leader in the design of arts and cultural facilities. She has directed the firm's creation of significant performing and visual arts centers and cultural visitor destinations across the United States and abroad. She is an active juror, lecturer and presenter to organizations across the United States. She earned accreditation as a LEED professional in 2004, managing Washington D.C.'s first LEED building, the National Association of Realtors Building. She recently spoke on the topic of safety and sustainability in performing and visual arts buildings at the 2008 Greenbuild national conference and at the 2008 United States Institute for Theater Technology national conference.

Laura received a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota. Laura is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Boston Society of Architects, the New England Museum Association, the American Association of Public Gardens and Arboreta, the American Association of Museums, the United States Institute of Theatre Technology, and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

HWS Staff

Howard Simmons - Director of Buildings & Grounds

Howard Simmons joined the Department of Buildings and Grounds as Project Manager immediately after college, and was quickly promoted to Assistant Director of Facilities. In 1992, he took over the reigns as Director of Buildings and Grounds and has provided strong and consistent leadership for the past 23 years.

Howard holds a bachelor's degree in Physical Plant Administration (Facilities Management) from the College of Engineering and Technology at Brigham Young University and has earned professional facilities management certification by APPA (Association of Physical Plant Administrators). The leadership and continuity Howard has provided has built strong relationships with HWS Trustees, administration, staff and students. His responsibilities include overall planning, design, construction, and day-to-day campus operations. Additionally, Howard has chaired numerous committees during his tenure, most recently Campus Services, where he strives to coordinate campus auxiliary departments and communication from a facilities perspective. Howard is active in a number of community activities including the Boy Scouts of America and serves as Chairman of the Board of the Seneca Lake Girls Camp.

Christopher J. Button - Senior Project Manager

Chris Button joined the Department of Buildings and Grounds in 1996 as a project manager, and has been a strong leader in the dramatic change of the physical plant that has taken place over the last 15 years.  Prior to joining the Colleges, he worked as a construction manager.

Chris holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in Construction Management from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University and is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Building Design and Construction. At the Colleges, Chris' responsibilities include oversight of the planning, design and construction activities for the campus, and he is a member of the Climate and Energy Committee and Co-Chair of the 21st Century Campus, a working group of the President's 2015 Initiative. He is also active in the Geneva community as a Board member at Lakeview Mental Health Services and a Building Committee member for the historic Smith Opera House.

"Working closely with Gund Partnership, I find them professional, creative and brilliant.  The process to date has been incredibly rewarding, and I'm excited by the vision we're creating for the performing arts.  Our campus will be a much more vibrant place upon completion of this beautiful new center, and the opportunities for our students will be countless."

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Performing Arts Center, contact Vice President for Institutional Advancement Bob O'Connor at or 315-781-3535.

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