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New Performing Arts Center, Middlesex Community College

Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Project Name

New Performing Arts Center, Middlesex Community College


33 Kearney Square


Year Completed



20,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost



Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance


  • Josiah Stevenson
  • Andrea Leers
  • Kevin Bell
  • Seung-Jin Ham


  • : Cosentini Associates
  • Structural Engineer: RSE Associates
  • Civil Engineer: Green International
  • Other: Fisher Dachs Associates
  • Other: Acentech
  • Lighting Designer: Lam Partners
  • Other: Preservation Technology Associates
  • Geotechnical Engineer: GZA

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Project Description

The design for a new performing arts center reimagines the historic Boston & Maine Railroad Depot at Towers Corner. The 1876 exterior of the building will be preserved, and the interior of the building will be completely reconstructed to make room for three major teaching spaces; a new proscenium theater classroom, music recital hall, and a dance studio black box theater.

The largest of the spaces, a 177-seat theater, steps down from the ground floor lobby to a basement level, affording excellent sight lines and fully accessible space for students, performers, and patrons alike. At the second floor, the recital hall and dance studio take advantage of the high roof, exposed timber trusses, and borrowed light through a west facing gallery passageway. Along the sidewalk, a linear gallery and theater lobby display student activity and invite the public in through a main entry at the base of the landmark clock tower.

The site of the new performing arts center, within the Lowell National Historical Park, is part of the renewed urban core of Lowell, Massachusetts. Expansion of the designated historic structure is constrained by an existing building that fills the site atop shallow bedrock within a nationally important historic district. Given these limitations, the design calls for the excavation and construction of a new basement built on the bedrock and a mechanical addition in a mezzanine at the roof or on a sliver of land adjacent to the building. These additions will nearly double the area available within the building for the college’s vibrant and growing music, theater, and dance departments, all dedicated to teaching the art and craft of the performing arts. Each major teaching space will combine a professional level technological environment with the intimate scale appropriate for student performance.

The extensive renovation of an underused existing historic building in a pedestrian friendly urban center near public transportation is at the core of the project’s approach to sustainability. This building will serve as a catalyst for future urban development and cements the college’s commitment to an urban campus. In addition, the project will incorporate a high-performance building envelope, high-efficiency equipment, and automated controls to reduce energy use and improve the indoor environment. Water use will be reduced through the use of low-flow fixtures, existing building materials will be reused, and new building materials will be recycled or rapidly renewable. Daylight will be introduced into all three major spaces, and additional opportunities will be explored.
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