Performing Arts Groundbreaking – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Performing Arts Groundbreaking

Colleges Surpass Fundraising Goal

Hobart and William Smith celebrated a momentous occasion on Friday, April 25 when, during the groundbreaking for the new Performing Arts Center, President Mark D. Gearan announced that thanks to an anonymous donor’s $1.5 million gift, the Colleges have surpassed its fundraising goal of $28 million.  

“This is the largest and most complex capital project the Colleges have ever undertaken,” said Gearan. “In exceeding the fundraising goal of $28 million, we have raised four times more for this project than for any other in the Colleges’ history.”

Bringing together students, faculty, staff, alumni, alumnae and the Board of Trustees, the groundbreaking ceremony formally launched the construction phase for the 65,000-square-foot facility. When completed in January 2016, the three-story Center will provide academic and performance space for the departments of music, dance, theatre, and media and society.

“In our work to envision a new Performing Arts Center, we were driven by a desire to create an interdisciplinary academic facility that will privilege teaching, learning and performing, that will engage our students – whether as participants or audience members – and stretch their imaginations,” said Gearan during his opening remarks.

Located on Pulteney Street across from the Scandling Campus Center, the new Performing Arts Center will anchor the center of campus, uniting the Warren Hunting Smith Library, the Melly Academic Center, the Rosensweig Learning Commons, the Scandling Campus Center, Coxe Hall and the Hobart Quadrangle.

“This project has benefitted from the philanthropy and generosity of dozens of alums, parents and friends of the Colleges who, in ways large and small, made the performing arts a priority,” says Vice President for Advancement Bob O’Connor. “The groundbreaking was a way for us to honor the many donors who have made this project a reality as well as to celebrate the beginning of a new era of the arts on campus.”

At the groundbreaking, Gearan credited the leadership of three Board Chairs who worked during their tenures to enable the project. They include current Board Chair Maureen Collins Zupan ’72; P’09; Honorary Trustee Charles Salisbury Jr. ’63, P’94, L.H.D.’08; and Honorary Trustee David Deming ’75.

Gearan also recognized the vision and contributions of Chair Emeritus of the Board of Trustees L. Thomas Melly ’52, L.H.D. ’02. “One trustee had a vision, coupled with his commitment, and brought his integrity and decades long engagement at Hobart and William Smith Colleges to inspire others,” Gearan said. “We all know we would not be breaking ground today without Tom Melly.”

In honor of Melly’s contributions to the project, the atrium of the new Performing Arts Center will be named in his honor.

Zupan also offered remarks at the groundbreaking. “This new Performing Arts Center will give a much-needed home to four departments whose achievements have far exceeded their facilities,” Zupan said. “It will place the performing arts solidly at the center of our campus. It will strengthen our ability to use the arts to prepare students to lead lives of consequence. It will become a new way in which we can differentiate the Colleges.”

In observing the influence that the new center will have on current and future generations of students, four students – each representing one of the four academic areas that will call the new space home – also shared their sentiments. Giving remarks were: Jeffrey Matos ’16, a theatre and psychology double major; Eva Touhey ’15, a double major in biology and music; Jenna Davidson-Catalano ’14, a double major in dance, and arts and education; and Steve Gemmiti ’14, a media and society major and computer science minor.

As a current student who will benefit from the space during his senior year, Matos said he looks forward to the prospect of eventually performing in the theatre. “As an artist and a student, your investment in our work lets us know that what we are doing matters and that you believe in us and our future,” he told those gathered.

Representatives from the design and construction management firms retained for the new Performing Arts Center were also at the groundbreaking. Acclaimed architecture and planning firm, The GUND Partnership, is finalizing the design, and Welliver, of Montour Falls, N.Y., will manage the construction.

When completed, the brick facade of the new Performing Arts Center will be consistent with the campus aesthetic and include tall windows, steep pitched roofs and a tower. The third floor will include a beautiful, rooftop terrace and garden. Internally, plans for the academic facility include a sweeping, open lobby linking flexible performance and rehearsal spaces specially designed for theatre, music and dance.

Adaptable seating will allow for the creation of spaces that can be changed to accommodate multiple types of productions and audience sizes. Performance space for theatre, music and dance will seat, respectively, 140, 125 and 250 audience members. The building will also include 18 faculty offices, practice and recital rooms, and a film screening room. It will be wired with the latest technology, providing facilities for students interested in lighting, sound or stage management.

The new Performing Arts Center is being designed and will be constructed using sustainable practices and materials. “The building will achieve LEED Silver at a minimum, but we’re on a solid path to gold,” says Chris Button, senior project manager for the Colleges who is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Building Design and Construction. “This work is in direct support of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, of which the Colleges are a charter signatory. Sustainable features include highly efficient boilers and air handlers, LED lighting for performance areas, and rain gardens and bio swales to capture storm water, to name just a few items.”

Additionally, the Performing Arts Center will play a large role locally and across the region. Members of the greater Geneva community will share in the new arts and events space through community programs, as well as those hosted by HWS. In partnership with The Smith Center for the Arts, large-scale performances will continue to be held at the Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva.

In the photo above, breaking ground on the new performing arts center are: Trustee Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish ’82; Chair Emeritus of the Board of Trustees L. Thomas Melly ’52, L.H.D. ’02; Christopher McDonald ’77, L.H.D.’13; HWS President Mark D. Gearan; Nozomi Williams; Craig Stine ’81, P’17; Chris Welles ’84, P’12, P’15; Sarah Nargiso ’07; Rita Goldstein Ashton P’04, P’07; Joanne Froelich and Edward Froelich ’55; and HWS Board Chair Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09.