SUNY Breaks Ground on New Performance Building

POTSDAM, NY — The State University of New York at Potsdam held a groundbreaking ceremony for its $41 million performing arts building with members of the university community and elected officials.
"With the construction of this building, SUNY Potsdam will provide our students with practice and performance spaces that host cutting-edge technology, grant access to the arts for the campus and greater community, infuse the arts throughout every curriculum and offer integrated arts programs that will foster dynamic partnerships between the College and the Northern New York region," said University President John Schwaller.
The building will provide about $128 million in economic activity and create 344 regional jobs in the North Country throughout construction, according to university officials.
The academic building — the first to be constructed on the Potsdam campus since 1973 — will feature 97,000 square feet of theater and dance space, supporting the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
The concept of the facility was designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects PC with Syracruse-based Northland Associates serving as the general contractor on the project.
The university’s theatre and dance program aims to bring music education to all ages, with educational plays brought to 7,000 Northern New York school children last year, according to university officials. The program also offers summer camps and special events.
The building will feature 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 and an adjacent café will serve as an "arts avenue" displaying student works, while providing various seating areas for socializing and collaborating. The space is designed to double as a special events and reception area that can also accommodate pre-performance and intermission activities.
Educational spaces in the building will feature laboratories for education in digital, audio, design, drafting and lighting. Movement studios for dance and theater, a recording studio, scene shop and costume shop will also be housed in the building, along with dressing rooms and a green room.
Norman Pfeiffer, architect on the project, said the building was inspired by the beauty of the nearby St. Lawrence Valley.
"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,” he said. “Inside, the colors reflect those of fall leaves, mimicking the beauty of the region’s waterways."
The building is designed to meet LEED Silver standards.