Prior Performing Arts Center Opens at Holy Cross

  |  September 29, 2022

Our team has been thrilled to see the Prior Performing Arts Center project through to completion at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Key features of this new 84,000 SF facility include a 400-seat concert hall, 200-seat theater, art gallery, scene shop, recording and costume design studios, outdoor gardens, a multimedia teaching space, media lab, and an indoor courtyard called The Beehive. Jaffe Holden attended the Community Day open house this past weekend and enjoyed seeing the completed facility in action.

Performing arts centers are often the crown jewel of a school campus, the hub of activity where current students, faculty, and alumni gather for special events, and the main draw that piques the interest of prospective students. In this case, the Prior Performing Arts Center is all that and more. Apart from the beautifully designed concert hall and theater, this is a place where students from all areas of study can come together to collaborate within The Beehive – a flexible gathering space that includes a shared multimedia teaching space for electronic music and musical composition courses, sound recording, sound editing, and video and film editing. There are also collaborative workspaces, multipurpose rehearsal spaces, a café, and gathering spaces with reconfigurable furniture. This place is a melting pot where the arts in all its forms can meld together.

All roads within the Prior PAC lead to The Beehive, with each of the performance and rehearsal spaces letting out into the main lobby. The acoustically superior 400-seat Luth Concert Hall and proscenium theater serves as the college’s principal venue for symphonic music, chamber music, jazz, and Gamelan, opera, music theater, and dance. We designed motorized acoustic banners, a motorized pit, and a movable orchestra shell to foster the highest level of acoustic flexibility. An inner wrapper of wooden wall and ceiling reflectors provides ideal symphonic acoustics. The Boroughs Theatre, a 200-seat flexible experimental performance space, utilizes a huge Skyfold acoustic door that when open leads to The Beehive. When closed, it creates two smaller spaces which can be used simultaneously.

It was our objective to not only design excellent acoustics throughout the facility, but also a highly robust AV infrastructure that makes the Prior PAC a competitive 21st century learning environment that exceeds the expectations of forward-thinking students who study the arts and rely heavily on the latest technologies. Our flexible AV systems are integrated into almost every space within the building, creating an interconnectivity that rivals an actual beehive. A central AV rack remotely connects to every AV rack in the building over a dedicated fiber-optic network. A rehearsal room serves as a live space for the adjacent recording studio suite which can connect to any space in the building to facilitate professional level recording. The Booth Media Lab is home to digital music composition, sound and video editing, and film, lighting, and set design. Its novel design allows for a quick transition from studio classroom into a space for performance or arts installation.

Vincent Rougeau, President of Holy Cross, highlighted the value this new campus focal point brings to the community: “The performing arts center provides our faculty, students, and staff with a venue that befits their extraordinary vision and collective talents, and is a powerful tribute to the College’s belief that creative and performing arts enhance learning across all academic disciplines.”



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