Composing a new home for musical theater

Renderings by Michael Maltzan Architecture

Current renderings for the first theater in RIT’s performing arts center. Construction is planned to begin this summer, with completion in 2025.

A 750-seat music performance theater will be constructed on the RIT campus to offer a venue for musical theater productions.

The new building will be the first of two theaters in a performing arts center. The first phase will be an iconic building with more than 40,000 square feet of space, with anticipated completion in 2025.

The theater will have two balconies, costume and scene shops, as well as rehearsal space. And it will feature a restored historic theater organ as its centerpiece. Construction is expected to start this summer.

The second phase, which is funding-dependent, will be an adjacent building, larger than the first, with an envisioned 1,500-seat orchestra hall for larger audiences, an expanded lobby, and a stage big enough to accommodate a large philharmonic orchestra and major events.

The project is intended to provide more venues for the RIT community as well as options for community groups to hold concerts, talks, and other events.

It comes as a result of thousands of RIT students participating in performing arts, as RIT works to develop the leading performing arts program in the nation for non-majors, attracting talented and creative students who can continue their passions for music, dance, theater, and other performing arts.

The first phase is expected to cost more than $40 million, which is part of RIT’s approved capital bond project. Additional funds will be sought to restore and install the pipe organ. Several naming opportunities are available as well.

James Yarrington, RIT’s university architect and director of Planning and Design Services, said the Rochester area has numerous theaters, but there are few options for venues that seat between 700 and 1,500 people. By comparison, the Robert F. Panara Theatre in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall has 440 seats.

“We are so pleased that construction is beginning on this important new building for RIT students and the community,” said Michael Maltzan, who heads the Los Angeles-based architectural firm bearing his name that designed the theater. “The music performance theater will serve as a new gateway to the campus and a destination supporting the extraordinary creativity that is fundamental to the culture at RIT, now, and as a part of the dynamic future of the university.”

The architect of record is local company SWBR.

This story is part of the 2023 President’s Annual Report. Read more stories from the report.

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