University Breaks Ground on Performing Arts Center


Courtesy of Villanova University

Kaley Ciluffo

Adhering to the school creed, “Ignite Change, Go Nova” University students and faculty have witnessed multiple transformative changes during the 2017-18 academic year.

 On Jan. 25th, the University held a breaking ground ceremony for the future Performing Arts Center, a $60 million project with the goal of uniting the University’s award-winning arts community under a singular common space. 

“Today, a dream is becoming a reality,” University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. told the crowd gathered to celebrate the project. 

“This is an exciting new chapter for Villanova,” Donohue said. “I look forward to what the future holds for our arts community and am humbled by the countless people who made today possible.” 

Considered one of the University’s most ambitious and beneficial projects, the Performing Arts Center will function as the heart of creativity on Villanova’s campus. 

Bolstered by two $20 million dollar donations and multiple million dollar contributions, the center will feature two cutting-edge performance spaces and house Villanova’s Theatre Program, along with other dance and music activities. 

With an emphasis on community, the Performing Arts center will serve as a destination for students, faculty, parents, friends and alumni to unite under the common passion for the arts. 

Donohue has long expressed his desire to create a comprehensive community space for Villanova’s performing arts programs. As chair of the University’s Department of Theatre from 1992 to 2006, Donohue expressed his excitement in seeing his longstanding vision become a reality. 

“The Performing Arts Center,” Donohue said, “will be a place of discovery, where knowledge is disseminated and applied. 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.” 

Taking center stage are the building’s two main performance spaces that include a 400 seat proscenium-style theater with state-of-the-art acoustics, technology and theatrical lighting. The space will centralize Villanova’s unique cultural events, such as the concert series, University-wide lectures and major event screenings. 

Supplementing the 400-seat theatre is a 200-seat courtyard theatre that also includes modern technology, sound and acoustics. 

In addition to the theaters, the Performing Arts Center will have multiple rehearsal spaces, performance labs, classrooms, dance studios, costume and scenery shops, a box office and numerous venues for other noteworthy events.  

Villanova’s Theatre Department boasts a storied legacy dating back nearly 60 years. Highlighting the program’s legacy is its multiple alumni that have gone on to have accomplished careers in the arts. 

To date, the University’s Theatre department has received six prestigious Barrymore Excellence Awards for Excellence in Theatre from the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia and the 2013 Philadelphia They Theatre Critics’ Awards for Best Director and Best Production. 

The University’s Arts Center is another crucial step for the long-term development of Lancaster Ave. The project, which began  in 2016, is expected to be completed in early 2020. 

Other projects include the new parking garage, Lancaster Bridge, residential housing, student-centered retail, and restaurants. Central to the development project is the purpose of elevating the University’s campus and transforming Lancaster Ave. into a more attractive place to live and learn. 

The continual development of Lancaster Ave. is the result of “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.” 

Launched in 2013 and concluding in May 2018, “For the Greater Great” has raised over $730 million to date. Central to the camping is the University’s call for academic innovation by building a premier learning environment that mirrors the quality of its faculty and student body. 

Funded entirely through philanthropic support, the generous gifts and pledges to the Performing Arts Center are comprehensive to the fundraising effort and a testament to the strong alumni network that continually works to cement the University’s place among America’s premier institutions. 

The Performing Arts Center is expected to be the culmination of the Lancaster Ave. development project.