Inside the new Prior Performing Arts Center at Holy Cross

WORCESTER, Mass. – On Tuesday, the College of the Holy Cross offered tours of the new Prior Performing Arts Center, an 84,000-square-foot, $110 million facility billed as an “incubator for Multidisciplinary learning and creativity.”


What You Need To Know

  • The new Prior Performing Arts Center at Holy Cross is complete, and students are now attending classes there
  • The 84,000-square-foot, $110 million facility will be open for public tours on September 24
  • It includes a concert hall, a theater, a scene shop, recording and costume design studios and more
  • Architects and the campus community hope the building will be a center of culture for the campus

Key features include a 400-seat concert hall, a 200-seat theater, a scene shop, recording and costume design studios, outdoor gardens and a multimedia teaching space.

In some ways, it’s still a blank canvas even as students return for classes. That’s exactly what Charles Renfro, an architect with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, had envisioned.

“A lot of these spaces are thought to be able to be used in many different ways by many different groups,” Renfro said.

At the center of it all is The Beehive, an indoor courtyard that can also be viewed from perches on the floors above.

“It receives this kind of energy from all the spaces that overlook it,” Renfro said. “This is also a space that is open to students for the most part of the day, not just students that are taking classes here but all students from campus to come into the building and adopt this space as their own.”

Renfro and other designers aimed to make Prior Performing Arts a versatile center of culture for the Holy Cross campus. Daniel DiCenso, an associate professor in the school’s music program, said he’s excited about the building’s potential to inspire and empower.

“Buildings, as you well know, are temples,” DiCenso said. “We have temples to science and temples to Gods and temples to books as a library. This temple is a different kind of temple. It is a temple to queerness and a temple to creativity. It’s a temple to inclusivity and breaking down boundaries, just in the way the building is designed.”

In December, Holy Cross will host a series of Inaugural performances at the Prior Performing Arts Center. On September 24, there will be a Community Day where the public will have an opportunity to tour the space.

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