SUNY Potsdam Celebrates Ribbon Cutting for $55M Performing Arts Center


For a full caption, please see the press release.

SUNY Potsdam celebrated the ribbon cutting for the College's $55 million Performing Arts Center, the first new academic building in 40 years, in a special ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Now in the final stages of completion, crews are working around the clock to put the finishing touches on the Performing Arts Center before it opens for classes in January.

In keeping with the building's eventual mission, the ceremony kicked off with a flash mob of dance students performing an impromptu piece choreographed by Associate Professor of Dance Donald Borsh in the new lobby. Props and costumes from past College productions were on display, and visitors could check out a timelapse video of the facility's construction in two of the building's new labs.

"SUNY Potsdam is a first-choice destination for performing arts students worldwide, and the new center promises to lift the College's highly acclaimed programs in theatre and the arts even higher," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "This is a proud and exciting day for SUNY and for the many students, faculty, staff and visitors who are certain to benefit from the Performing Arts Center for years to come."

The Performing Arts Center will house SUNY Potsdam's acclaimed Department of Theatre and Dance, and connects to The Crane School of Music. The 97,000-square-foot facility is set to be one of the best performance venues north of New York City, with a 350-seat proscenium theater, a 200-seat black box theater and a 200-seat dance performance hall.

"This remarkable building, with its state-of-the-art performance and learning spaces, will help cement our status as SUNY's leading arts campus. The Performing Arts Center will allow SUNY Potsdam's culture of creativity to further blossom and grow, will expand our ability to merge together technology and the arts, and will attract audiences from across the region," said Interim President Dr. Dennis L. Hefner.

The construction of the Performing Arts Center created approximately 344 regional jobs and an estimated $128 million in economic activity during construction.

State Senator Joseph Griffo, who advocated for funding for the building in the Legislature, spoke at the ceremony.

"Can you feel the energy and the excitement? Isn't it great? Just from the performance we saw, but you can feel it in the building. And I think that is what is so significant about today," Griffo said. "It's another historic milestone in the life of this great college. It's an opportunity for us to reflect and to celebrate our past, our present and the future. It's an opportunity for us to recognize and appreciate over a decade ago when the seeds were germinating of an idea of how to continue to enhance this college and to attract new students, to broaden our horizons. Where better than on a college campus can we contemplate, reflect and envision the potential and the possibilities that exist? And that opportunity came from a lot of good people."

Sen. Griffo was joined by state Assemblymembers Addie Jenne Russell, who represents Potsdam, and Marc Butler '74, a proud SUNY Potsdam alumnus.

Representatives from Pfeiffer Partners Architects PC, which designed the building, and general contractor Northland Associates Inc. of Syracuse also attended, along with officials from the State University Construction Fund. Members of the SUNY Potsdam President's Council, College Council, Alumni Association and Potsdam College Foundation Board of Trustees all were in attendance.

Following the ceremony, the representatives gathered for a photo before cutting the ribbon to the Performing Arts Center. Clockwise, from top left: Tim Tyler of Northland Associates, Department of Theatre and Dance Associate Professor Kimberley Bouchard, Lorenzo Mattii of Pfeiffer Partners Architects, Theatre and Dance Chair Jay Pecora, NYS Assemblyman Marc Butler '74, Theatre and Dance student Kristy Allen, NYS Assemblywoman Addie Jenne Russell, Provost Margaret Madden, NYS Senator Joseph Griffo, College Council Chair June O'Neill and Interim President Dennis L. Hefner.

Home to the State University of New York's first theatre education program, SUNY Potsdam's Department of Theatre and Dance is dedicated to bringing the performing arts to students of all ages. Its outreach programs bring educational plays to 7,000 Northern New York school children each year, with programs offered at their districts and on campus—not to mention the many educational opportunities the department offers through summer camps and special events at the College, and to the many community members who attend performances every semester.

The Performing Arts Center's light-infused lobby with its adjacent café will serve as an "arts avenue" displaying student works, while providing a variety of seating areas for socializing and collaborating. In addition, the arts avenue doubles as a special events space and reception area. The lobby will also provide students with a convenient weather-protected connection from the building's southeast entry to The Crane School of Music at Bishop Hall.

The center's innovative educational resources include advanced laboratories for education, digital and audio design, drafting and lighting. The facility will also feature movement studios for dance and theater, as well as a recording studio, crafts and costume lab and an archive for costumes and props. A full complement of performer support spaces, including dressing rooms and a green room, are also provided.

The design of the Performing Arts Building signals SUNY Potsdam's continued commitment to sustainability. It will meet the requirements necessary to achieve a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's (LEED) Silver certification, and the College is striving to reach Gold status.

To learn more about the Performing Arts Building and view architect's renderings, visit

To see a timelapse video looking back at the construction of the Performing Arts Center, visit

For more information about the SUNY Potsdam Department of Theatre and Dance, visit


Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of only three arts campuses in the entire SUNY system. SUNY Potsdam's arts curriculum offers the full palette: music, theatre, dance, fine arts and creative writing. No matter the discipline, people from all backgrounds can find their creative compass at Potsdam, with myriad arts immersion experiences available for both campus and community.