VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova University celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 25 for a new Performing Arts Center that will unite the University’s artistic community under one roof, enriching Villanova’s campus and enhancing educational opportunities across disciplines. The $60 million project will be funded entirely through philanthropic support. The project has been bolstered by six gifts of $1 million or more, including two gifts of $20 million.
Considered one of Villanova’s most transformational projects, the Performing Arts Center will provide a hub for creativity, engagement and exploration for the University’s arts community. In addition to enhancing educational opportunities in the arts, the new Center will transform the campus’ cultural landscape. Physically, the project is part of a larger development plan for Villanova, which is enhancing its campus along Lancaster Avenue—transforming the area into an attractive living and learning environment. The development also features residential housing for upperclassmen and University-operated, student-centric retail, including a new Villanova apparel shop, full-service restaurant and market-style convenience store.
“Today, a dream is becoming a reality,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President. “This is an exciting new chapter for Villanova. I look forward to what the future holds for our arts community and am humbled by the countless people who made today possible.”
The Performing Arts Center will feature state-of-the-art performance spaces and studios, classrooms to support education and artistic innovation, and common areas for collaboration by members of the University community. Serving as home to the Villanova Theatre program, as well as other music and dance activities, it will provide a destination where students, faculty, parents, alumni and friends of Villanova can share their passion for the arts.
Villanova has celebrated history of theatre that dates back nearly 60 years. Numerous alumni have gone on to impressive theatre careers and the Villanova Theatre has received numerous accolades, including six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre from the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia and the 2013 Philadelphia Theater Critics’ Awards for Best Director and Best Production.
The Center’s two main performance spaces include a 400-seat proscenium-style theatre with tailored acoustics, state-of-the-art theatrical lighting and modern technology. This space also will accommodate cultural events such as concert series, University-wide lectures and major event screenings. The other performance venue will be a 200-seat courtyard theatre that includes technologically advanced lighting and sound equipment. In addition, the Performing Arts Center will have rehearsal space, performance labs, classrooms, a dance studio, costume and scenery shops, a box office and multiple venues for special events.
“For many years, even before I became president, I have been vocal about my desire to create a permanent home for the arts at Villanova,” added Fr. Donohue, who served as chair of the University’s Department of Theatre from 1992 to 2006. “The Performing Arts Center will be that place. It will be a place of discovery, where knowledge is disseminated and applied, and it will be a destination that reflects the quality of our students, faculty and staff, the caliber of our productions and the talent of our performers and artists.”
The Performing Arts Center was designed by the New York firm, Robert A. M. Stern Architects, and the Philadelphia firm, Voith & Mactavish Architects, selected by Villanova as joint-partners for its Lancaster Avenue development project. LFDriscoll, LLC., will serve as the construction manager for the new building.
“We are grateful for the alumni, parents and friends whose generosity has helped us reach this exciting milestone,” said Michael J. O’Neill, Senior Vice President for University Advancement. “The Performing Arts Center is a highly anticipated facility and an impressive example of how philanthropic investment is transforming our campus today and for the future.”
Gifts and pledges to the Performing Arts Center are part of the University’s comprehensive capital campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.” Villanova launched the public phase of its campaign in Oct. 2013, and to date has raised more than $730 million. The campaign is scheduled to conclude May 31, 2018. The most ambitious in the University’s 176-year history, the Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change is aimed at cultivating academic innovation across its schools and colleges, investing in recruiting and retaining the finest teacher-scholars, dramatically enhancing financial aid and student opportunities, and continuing to build a premier living-learning environment on the University’s 260-acre campus. For more information on the Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change, visit www.forthegreatergreat.com.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.