SUNY Potsdam to Break Ground on $41M Performing Arts Building


An architectural rendering of the exterior of SUNY Potsdam’s new Performing Arts Building as seen at night.

The State University of New York at Potsdam will celebrate the groundbreaking for its $41 million Performing Arts Building in a ceremony with members of the College community and elected officials on Friday, April 29 at 3:30 p.m. Representatives from Pfeiffer Partners Architects PC, which designed the building, and general contractor Northland Associates Inc. will also attend.

This is the first new academic building to be constructed on the SUNY Potsdam campus since 1973. The Performing Arts Building will feature 97,000 square feet of theater and dance space, supporting the College’s acclaimed Department of Theatre and Dance.

“SUNY Potsdam is very proud to begin construction of this momentous project. In addition to providing much-needed employment for our region during construction, the Performing Arts Building—located adjacent to The Crane School of Music—will help create an arts village on our campus. This facility will offer students cutting-edge technology and serve as an arts showcase for the entire community,” said College President Dr. John F. Schwaller.

SUNY Potsdam’s Performing Arts Building will offer multiple performance spaces, including a 350-seat proscenium theatre, a 200-seat black box theatre, and a 200-seat dance performance hall.

The 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 will double as a special events space and reception area, providing space for pre-performance and intermission activities. 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 building’s innovative educational resources will feature laboratories for education, digital, audio, design, drafting and lighting, allowing students to learn and explore various artforms. The facility will also feature movement studios for dance and theater as well as a recording studio, scene shop and costume shop. A full complement of performer support spaces, including dressing rooms and a green room, will also be provided.

“This facility will allow the Department of Theatre and Dance to do things we’ve only dreamed of until now, including aerial dancing and use of multimedia in performance, and innovative design opportunities. Our students’ talents will quite literally take flight here,” said Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Kimberly Bouchard. “It is my hope that the Performing Arts Building will become the pride of the North Country, with people coming from all over the world to see it and create performances.”

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.

“The beauty of the St. Lawrence Valley inspired us in our design thinking,” said architect Norman Pfeiffer. “The angled exterior panels set against the linear terra cotta tiles pay homage to the majestic striated rock outcroppings and ledges seen throughout the North Country, while the undulating roof blankets the disparate volumes of space below, much like snow drifts belie what lay beneath. Inside, the colors reflect those of fall leaves, mimicking the beauty of the region’s waterways.”

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

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.