Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts
Designed for innovative teaching, performing, working, and creating, the center fosters creativity and collaboration among students and faculty across the disciplines.
Named in honor of Life Trustee Michael Gordon, an alumnus from the Class of 1966, the $95-million, 74,000-square-foot building is one of the most advanced and innovative performing arts facilities in New England and the new home for the departments of Music, Cinema Studies, and Performance, Theater, and Dance.
With a unique combination of highly flexible, multipurpose performance areas and studios, the Gordon Center, which was designed for teaching, performing, and most importantly, creating, provides transformational opportunities and experiences for Colby students and the broader community.
Michael Gordon is cofounder of investment management firm Angelo Gordon and non-executive chair of Angelo Gordon’s Partnership Advisory Board. In addition to serving on the College’s Board of Trustees, he is part of the Colby Museum Board of Governors and a former member of the College’s Board of Visitors.
Other generous donors who have made significant contributions to the Gordon Center include Trustee Marieke Rothschild and Jeff Rothschild, as well as Trustee John Lyons ’85 and Museum Board of Governor Susannah Gray, whose gifts supported the Olentine Forum and the Lyons Arts Lab. Additionally, there were numerous donors whose contributions helped fund a wide range of important spaces—from the cinema studies production studio to classrooms—including Roger Landay ’56 and Myrna K. Landay; Trustee Miguel Leff ’98 and Veronica Leff, as well as Museum Board of Governor Alice Kang and OhSang Kwon and many others.
Flexible, Multipurpose Spaces
Designed by William Rawn Associates, Architects Inc., which has designed some of the country’s most iconic performance spaces, including Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts emphatically integrates itself into the campus. As a natural bookend to the Colby Museum of Art, it embraces the south end of the College and Mayflower Hill Drive, communicating that the arts are at the core of Colby. With a dramatic exterior that combines glass, limestone, and brick, it beckons students and the broader community to participate in its creative energy.
At the heart of the Gordon Center is the Olentine Forum, a unique common space and performance area connecting to the three major studios, performance hall, and arts incubator. Designed to enable everyone in the building to visually interact with the energy of creating art, it brings together the various disciplines, breaking down independent silos that are often found in performance spaces.
Another key area is the 300-seat performance hall. With a unique set of acoustical options that can be customized depending on the type of performance (e.g. from a full symphony to a solo performer), it includes a large stage and an orchestra pit that can be raised to extend the stage. While the walls and ceiling of the 7,700-square-foot hall are covered in wood, the back of the hall is glass that can be dimmed and shaded as required. Additional highlights include:
Studio 1: Designed primarily for collaborative, experimental performance by all departments, the high-volume, 2,500-square-foot space has a 36-foot-high ceiling and a wall of glass. Acoustics can be tailored to the specific performance/rehearsal; there’s a control booth with projection capabilities; and the space is equipped with theater rigging for attaching scenery, backgrounds, and lighting.
Studio 2: With a unique level of lighting capabilities, this 2,500-square-foot black box theater space can be used for a wide range of performances and productions. It was designed with four points of entry to allow for multiple performance/audience arrangements, has a dedicated control booth and projection screen, and features a light pipe grid on the ceiling and four walls.
Studio 3: The 2,500-square-foot space with a wooden sprung floor and a full wall of mirrors is ideal for movement and dance. It also includes a light pipe grid with programmable theatrical lighting, video projection capabilities, and a roll-drop scrim to cover the mirror for multiple performance/audience arrangements.
The Gordon Center also includes a 50-seat film screening room with a dedicated projection booth that’s complemented by acoustically isolated video editing and recording rooms, as well as a studio production room that has a cyclorama (“cyc”) wall.
Other highlights are a 1,700-square-foot scene shop uniquely infused with natural light, a dedicated costume shop inviting visitors from the east entry to see the actual making of costumes, and a series of dressing rooms as well as a greenroom for pre- and post-performance use by performers. Additionally, there are 28 faculty offices and teaching studios, as well as two seminar rooms, a large classroom, and a general rehearsal room.
The Gordon Center also includes a unique arts incubator, and it is home to the Lyons Arts Lab. Both are focused on facilitating and supporting new ideas, concepts, and content developed by Colby students that can ultimately be performed for and experienced by the public.
The Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts will contribute to the cultural milieu of the region by providing dynamic programming and offering state-of-the-art space for the community. Designed to complement and enhance the broader arts ecosystem, it is already attracting a wide range of nationally recognized artists and performers.