Graphic by Lucye Rafferty /The Hoya Georgetown’s Art, Music and Theater Department merged with the Office of Performing Arts, creating a new Program in Performing Arts.

Construction on the new performing arts center on campus is slated to begin Sept. 29. The Ryan Administration Building will undergo a $30.8 million renovation and expansion, opening as the Rev. Royden B. Davis, S.J., (C ’47, L ’49, H ’85) Performing Arts Center in April 2005.

The renovated facility will include two theaters, a 230-seat proscenium theater and a 90-seat black box studio theater, each equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. The building will also include two rehearsal spaces, a scene shop, a costume shop, dressing rooms, maintenance areas, arts classrooms and administrative and academic offices.

The Ryan Building, which sits behind Copley Hall, housed the Office of Student Accounts until the end of August 2002, when the building was vacated to prepare for renovation.

Original plans for the Performing Arts Center were drafted in 1999, and administrators had originally hoped to see the building completed by September 2001.

The groundbreaking coincides with the recent merge of the Office of Performing Arts with the Art, Music and Theater academic department, which have become the Program for Performing Arts.

University President John J. DeGioia said that the merging of the two departments and the completion of the Performing Arts Center will offer undergraduates a more comprehensive liberal arts education.

“For us, the commitment to the Performing Arts center is part of providing a complete liberal arts education,” University President John J. DeGioia said. “We want to work to ensure that we offer the best undergraduate experience that we can possibly give, and one way to achieve this is to offer new venues to engage in performing arts.”

Georgetown received approval from local government agencies, including the ANC, before submitting the project to the D.C. Zoning Commission in January. Initial approval of the project was delayed until April because of concerns about how the university calculated its enrollment, averaging fall and spring semesters, and how it handled concerns about off-campus student parking and discipline.

Karen Frank, vice president for Facilities and Student Housing, said that although the university has received verbal approval from the commission, Georgetown will need to continually provide proof that the university is in compliance with the issues raised by the zoning commission.

“We will get final approval [to begin construction], but what the zoning commission does is place conditions on the construction, like enrollment and transportation, for example,” she said. “We have to give proof of compliance.”

At the Jan. 14 Zoning Commission meeting, University Architect Alan Brangman described the renovated layout of the building, which will attempt to return the building to its original condition. The Ryan Building once served as the main gymnasium, but after the cDonough Gymnasium opened in 1952, the Ryan Building was converted to an office building.

“[The] space within the Ryan Building will be returned to its original two story height exposing the trusses that currently exist there that were covered when we did renovation back in the 1950s to actually insert a second floor within the building,” he said. “All of that is being ripped out and we’re going to turn that back into a two story space so that as you walk around [the] lobby and pre-function area, you will have an understanding of what some of that space used to look like.”

Brangman said that the renovation will increase the total square footage of the building from 20,300 square feet to 39,600 square feet.

The building is named in memory of the late Georgetown College dean, who served from 1966 to 1989. To date, the university has raised $23.6 million of the $27.3 million fundraising goal.

The Gonda Family Foundation and MBNA America Bank have made significant contributions to the new center, and the 230-seat theater will be named the Gonda Theater, according to a university newsletter.

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