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 do you want to know

  • The new Prior Performing Arts Center at Holy Cross has been completed and students are now taking classes there
  • The 84,000 square foot, $110 million facility will open for public tours on September 24
  • It includes a concert hall, theater, stage 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, 200-seat theatre, stage shop, recording and costume design studios, outdoor gardens and a multimedia teaching space.

In some ways, it’s still a blank canvas even when students return for classes. This is exactly what Charles Renfro, architect at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, envisioned.

“We think a lot of these spaces can be used in different ways by a lot of different groups,” Renfro said.

At the center of it all is The Beehive, an interior courtyard that can also be seen from perches on the upper floors.

“It gets that kind of energy from all the spaces above it,” Renfro said. “It’s also a space open to students for most of the day, not just students taking classes here, but all students on campus who enter the building and make this space their own.”

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

“Buildings, as you well know, are temples,” DiCenso said. “We have temples of science and temples of gods and temples of books as a library. This temple is another type of temple. It is a temple of homosexuality and a temple of creativity. It is a temple of 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 the opportunity to visit the space.