PSS Winter '12

Front Row Seat

Performing Arts

Located on the current site of Medbery Parking Lot and across the street from the Scandling Campus Center, the Performing Arts Center will define the entryway of campus and signify the importance of the arts. Educationally-focused and efficient, every inch of the Performing Arts Center will serve multiple functions. Its soaring, open lobby will feature large windows, seating nooks and a small art gallery, as well as access to the building’s large performance spaces. With flexible floor and seats, these spaces will adapt and change with the imaginations of students, faculty and staff. The 55,000-square-foot facility will also include sound-dampened rehearsal spaces and faculty offices and it will be fully wired with modern technology, including lighting and sound equipment. This will be the Colleges’ first LEED-certified building. Creating a new Arts Quad, the Center will open a whole new area for student activity and promote a more connected campus culture.

The Performing Arts Center moves forward with support from key donors

Just $9.3 million in support is needed to complete the funding goal of $28 million for the construction of the new Performing Arts Center. With expanding programs in dance, theatre and music, and increased interest from prospective students, the need for a new center has never been greater.

“Hobart and William Smith are always pushing forward, always adapting and growing to provide students and faculty with the facilities, programs and opportunities they need to be successful,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “I feel strongly that academic space for the performing arts is currently the Colleges’ greatest need and that a newly constructed building will benefit the entire HWS community. The Performing Arts Center is my top priority.”

Since Hobart’s founding in 1822, the Colleges have never had facilities dedicated to theatre, dance and music. Bartlett, where theatre is housed, was designed to be a lecture hall and ball room. Winn-Seeley, where dance currently performs and practices, is a gym. The Chapel is the site of musical performances while practice happens on the second floor of Williams, also the headquarters of Information Technology.

The new Performing Arts Center will offer faculty and students a place where they can fully explore and exercise artistic self-expression, form partnerships across disciplines, and share their work with the HWS and Geneva communities.

“The only thing holding our faculty and students back is contemporary spaces,” says Gearan. “Having a front row seat in the evolution of this project has, for me, been an extraordinary opportunity as I’ve witnessed the thoughtful generosity of our many donors who have gotten us so far already. As the gifts for the Center have come in, the level of excitement and collaboration at the Colleges has just soared.”

Groundbreaking for the new Performing Arts Center will occur as soon as fundraising is complete. As the Colleges move closer to that moment, the building’s schematics have continued to evolve. Throughout the process, faculty, administrators and trustees have worked closely with the Gund Partnership, the award-winning, Boston-based architecture firm, to finalize design and start construction plans.

“The Hobart and William Smith Performing Arts Center is a pioneering model of interdisciplinary performing arts, but it is not overdone. It walks a delicate line between inspiration and practicality,” says Graham Gund, FAIA, LEED AP, founder and president of the Gund Partnership. “I’ve worked on more than 30 fine and performing arts buildings for colleges and universities as well as for cultural centers across the country, and I’m extremely proud to be associated with this project.”

Housing the facilities for theatre, music and dance in the same building, the Center will be located at the heart of campus–where Medbery Parking Lot currently sits– making the arts more visible on campus and emphasizing the importance of the arts in the overall liberal arts experience.

“Faculty, staff and students from all disciplines will tell you that this is their performing arts building, too,” says Associate Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Faculty Christine de Denus. “Regardless of one’s primary academic interests, the arts have an incredible ability to capture the imagination, even for those who might never consider participating in a dance or play.”

“A home for innovation and creativity, the new Performing Arts Center will enrich the lives of everyone who works and lives here. It will transform our campus,” says Gearan. “I extend my thanks to everyone who has made a gift to the center so far. We are making extraordinary progress, but we still need your support. We are very eager to begin.”

To learn more about the Performing Arts Center or to make a gift, contact Vice President for Institutional Advancement Robert O’Connor at (315) 781-3535 or


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