State University of New York at Potsdam

Performing Arts Center

Potsdam, New York

The new, highly visible performing arts building brings the arts together under one roof, colocating the Departments of Theater and Dance, while connecting to the nationally recognized Crane School of Music. As one of the first academic buildings constructed since architect Ed Barne’s work in the 1960’s, the performing arts building respects the box-like brick structures dominating much of the campus, yet provides a contemporary, fluid and transparent architecture that conveys the energy and vitality of the arts within. Architecturally, we were inspired by nature—the sweeping roof drapes the theater’s fly tower much as blankets of snow cover the region during a good part of the school year; the silvery gray Trespa panels pay homage to the graphite industry, which spawned the area’s early development, while the building’s jutting form and extruded terracotta tiles echo the rock striations for which the Adirondack area is known.

Project Data

97,000 gsf

Program & Highlights

350-seat proscenium theater
200-seat black box theater
200-seat aerial dance theater
Movement studios
Digital/audio studio
Design/drafting and lighting labs
Café/reception space


2016 United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) Merit Award

“SUNY Potsdam celebrates opening of $55 million Performing Arts Center with ribbon cutting,” North Country Now, December 4, 2013

Audrey Arthur, "SUNY Potsdam to Open New Performing Arts Center," SchoolConstuctionNEWS, September/October, 2013

Anderson, Katie, “SUNY Potsdam’s new performing arts center reflects north country landscapes,” Watertown Daily Times, July 1, 2013

“Pfeiffer Partners Architects’ performing arts center . . . is an example of close collaboration between professionals in the theater community and the building design unrivaled in my experience. . . . I’ve been involved in a number of building projects in my years as a theater technician; this is the first time I felt like I was actually listened to.”
— D. Jefferson Reeder, Technical Director—Dance, Drama, Opera, SUNY Potsdam


Structural Engineer: Wayman C. Wing Consulting Engineers
Civil Engineer: Shumaker Consulting Engineering
MEP:M/E Engineering, P.C.
Theater Consultant: Fisher Dachs Associates
Acoustics/AV: Acoustic Dimensions
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
Landscape Architect: Environmental Design & Research
Photographers: Christopher Payne, Younes Bounhnar & Amanda Large/doublespace Photography