Prior Center for Performing Arts
Last week, a small group gathered for the topping out ceremony to watch the final beam be placed atop the Prior Center for Performing Arts. This milestone marks significant progress on a structure that will be the heart of the arts at Holy Cross for years to come.
“We would not be here today if it were not for the remarkable generosity of Neil Prior, class of ’56, and so many alumni, parents and friends whose vision and investment allowed us to commence construction on this facility that is critically important to the future of this college,” said Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of the College, who proceeded to thank Dimeo Construction, architect Charles Renfro and his associates at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Holy Cross facilities team and the construction crew who work at the site each day. “You are helping to create an important addition to our campus that will have a profound impact on the education experience of the students here at Holy Cross.”
Although the gathering was small due to the ongoing pandemic, the milestone was a reminder of some of the persisting values of the Holy Cross community—creativity, innovation and togetherness. “Our entire College family is here with us in spirit,” said Fr. Boroughs. “We’re cognizant that we remain united even when we are apart.”
Fr. Boroughs led those in attendance in a prayer as the final beam was lifted into place at the top of the building. Other highlights of the ceremony included statistics from Dimeo on the staggering amount of work that has gone into the building so far—over 15,000 cubic yards of earth moved and over 3,600 tons of concrete put in place without a single accident—as well as remarks from Stephen Rutledge, chief operating officer of Dimeo, and Margaret Freije, provost and dean of the College.
“We are confident that, as we top off today, this will be a center for the entire community, where each member is encouraged to be entrepreneurial, to be open to new ideas and new ways of engaging the word, to grow in ways that we can’t even imagine now,” said Provost Freije. “And we look forward with great enthusiasm to the day when we can occupy this space and, with renewed fervor, expand our commitment to the arts and to the excellence of a Holy Cross education.”
Once complete, the center will include dedicated spaces for the fine and performing arts as well as spaces and technology to support creative interactions between the arts and other disciplines. Included in the design are a 400-seat proscenium-style concert hall and theatre, a 200-seat fully flexible experimental theatre space, support and multi-use spaces to encourage collaboration among the arts (such as “the Beehive,” a flexible space with a café that will support creative collaboration among students from all academic disciplines) and a shared multimedia teaching space. The new building will also house Cantor Art Gallery, which will be moved from its current location in O’Kane Hall, and will offer several outdoor amenities, including a small amphitheatre and gardens for meditation and outdoor creative work.
The center will serve as home to Holy Cross’ distinguished faculty in the performing arts. Their creative works have been presented to worldwide acclaim and have been celebrated with recognition such as a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Genius Award, three Grammy awards, numerous international prizes for composition and performance and multiple grants from federal and regional organizations.
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