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SUNY Potsdam celebrates topping-off of new Performance Arts Building

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POTSDAM — Ten years ago there was a lawn and an idea.

Friday, the steel skeleton for SUNY Potsdam’s new Performing Arts Building was completed with a topping-off ceremony. Students, faculty and administration gathered in the blustery weather within the mammoth maze of girders and beams to sign the last piece of the building and to watch it raised into place.

The $48 million building will not be complete until 2014, said Anastasia Thomas, assistant facilities program manager.

“Construction began a year ago in March,” she said. “Everything is proceeding on schedule.”

The construction is being supervised by Northland Associates of Syracuse.

Ms. Thomas said the building, which will move theater and dance students to a facility adjacent to the Crane School of Music, is badly needed.

“Our theater and dance programs are currently housed in Satterlee Hall. That space was never designed for movement and dance,” she said. “The departments really need this educational space.”

The building will include a new proscenium theater, a black box theater, dance performance space, movement studios, dance studios, lighting labs, a costume shop, a set shop, computer labs, classrooms and a new food service venue for students on the north side of campus.

Jay W. Pecora, director of theater education, said the new facility is going to bring theater and dance students closer to their Crane colleagues.

“This building is going to provide us with a real hub for all that interdisciplinary performing arts work,” he said. “You’ll have theater students and musicians occupying the same spaces. It is exciting to think of the collaboration.”

Mr. Pecora said the building will benefit Potsdam as a whole as well.

“This can be used all summer long, so members of the community and students across the state will be able to come here,” he said. “It is a transformative experience for us. It is metal and stone and concrete right now, but it will be pulsing with life.”

Potsdam students are excited about their new facility. Joseph M. Cambareri, a third-year music education student, said the new facility will help him pursue one of his interests.

“I’m happy to get this building on campus,” he said. “I am a big musical theater fan and I really missed it in my life. This building is going to improve campus unity.”

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