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February 21st, 2011
University finalizes design for Performing Arts Center

The Performing Arts Center, as seen from University Drive. COURTESY ILLUSTRATION

SUBMITTED REPORT

Following months of growing anticipation, Texas State University has unveiled design plans for the planned new Performing Arts Center.

The Performing Arts Center will be constructed facing University Drive, on the current site of Falls Hall. The state-of-the-art facility will feature a 400-seat theatre and a 300-seat recital hall as well as rehearsal spaces, staging areas, classrooms and a grand lobby.

The interior of the building, as seen from the lobby. COURTESY ILLUSTRATION

“Our students deserve this venue for their talents, and our faculty deserve it to showcase the results of their teaching and mentoring,” said Texas State Provost Perry Moore.

The Performing Arts Center was chosen as one of the five pillars of the university’s Pride in Action campaign. The usefulness of the current 41-year-old Theatre Center is hampered by limited space, outmoded wiring and obsolete technical capabilities — all inadequate for a modern theatre program, university officials said.

“The importance of the project is evident in the fact that we chose it as one of the five pillars of the Pride in Action campaign,” said Texas State President Denise Trauth. “All of us are very excited about the new Performing Arts Center, but no one is more excited than Patti Harrison. Patti gave us the lead gift for the project — $8 million. Her faith in the vision launched the fundraising for the facility and kept it at the top of our ‘must-do’ list.”

Harrison’s gift in 2008 set the project in motion. When the state legislature declined to issue tuition revenue bonds to cover construction, the university reassessed priorities and placed several Campus Master Plan initiatives on hold to cover the balance of the approximately $43 million cost. The final funding is made up of Higher Education Assistance Funds, gift money and Texas State University System Revenue Financing System Revenue Bonds.

Officials have not yet set a firm groundbreaking date, a university spokesperson said, but the final design is expected to be set by June and the Falls Hall will be demolished sometime before then.

“The Performing Arts Center is really a gift to the community. I can’t tell you how many times I have been watching a play or a concert and thought, ‘This is wonderful. I wish everybody in Central Texas could see this!’” Harrison said. “The center will allow more people to see what incredible talent we have here and will be an exceptional source of entertainment.”

The location of the Performing Arts Center was chosen specifically to facilitate interaction with the San Marcos community. A 455-space parking garage is included in the construction plans with easy access to the venue, eliminating the long-standing community complaint about the difficulty of finding parking on campus for entertainment events.

The feasibility study for the Performing Arts Center was conducted by Pfeiffer Partners, which has extensive experience in developing similar facilities with the University of Southern California, Notre Dame University and the State University of New York-Potsdam.

The project architect is Morris Architects, based in Houston, Los Angeles and Orlando. Morris has designed many high-profile performing arts centers, including the Hobby Center and Wortham Theatre Center, both in Houston; the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, N.C.; and the Disney Institute Recital Hall in Fla. Morris is already familiar with Texas State through its work on the in-progress Undergraduate Academic Center. The contractor for the project is Hunt Construction, which is currently building the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center for the University of Texas-Permian Basin.

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