GENEVA --- The Gearan Center for the Performing Arts – a newly constructed 65,000-square-foot, high-tech academic facility designed to embrace, advance and experience the performing arts – is officially opening at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Equipped with performance spaces for music, theatre and dance, as well as a theatre-quality film-screening room, the Gearan Center, which stands as an additional campus space for events and community programs, enhances the Colleges’ local commitment to arts and culture.

“Geneva and the Finger Lakes region have long been recognized as prominent destinations where the performing arts are practiced, celebrated and experienced,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “This remarkable new facility at the heart of the Hobart and William Smith campus further adds to that enduring profile. We are proud to celebrate this momentous occasion and look forward to working with our community partners to continue to advance artistic expression, creativity and culture through the performing arts.”

Featuring dozens of multipurpose academic and performance spaces, the three-story building brings together music, dance, theatre and media and society in a unified campus space for the first time in HWS history. The Gearan Center will serve as a hub for an array of campus events and programs, transitioning from dance performances that had been held in Winn-Seeley Gymnasium, theatre productions in Coxe Hall and concerts in St. John’s Chapel.

In partnership with The Smith Center for the Arts, large-scale performances will continue to be held at the Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva, where events such as the annual Koshare Dance Collective show have enjoyed great success.

Local community members are invited to a Public Open House on Saturday, Jan. 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. Members of the design and construction teams, along with President Gearan, will be available to provide more details on the project and offer tours. 

“This project would not have been possible without the partnership of the Geneva community that has worked collaboratively with us to bring the design into reality,” says Gearan. “I’m excited for the upcoming community productions and festivals that will be able to use the space as we continue that partnership into the future.”

The Gearan Center’s design is consistent with the HWS campus and includes many classic elements such as warm bricks, elegant stone, and steep-pitched roofs crowned with natural Vermont slate. It draws inspiration from the historic character of Medbery, Coxe and Smith halls while giving a respectful nod to the more modern Melly Academic Center and Scandling Campus Center. The building offers modern touches such as large sweeping windows and an inviting glass entryway.

The facility was designed by the acclaimed Cambridge, Mass.-based architecture firm, The GUND Partnership. Welliver of Montour Falls, N.Y., managed the construction. To uphold the Colleges’ commitment to sustainability and in an effort to reduce environmental impact, the design and construction teams have ensured that the project achieves LEED Silver Certification or better.

The newly completed Gearan Center, which began construction in mid-2014, was made possible thanks to the Board of Trustees, the leadership of three Board Chairs, numerous faculty members, student leaders and the generosity of alumni, alumnae, parents and friends of the Colleges.

In October 2015, during a commemorative cornerstone installation ceremony, the facility was officially named the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts in honor of President Gearan and Mary Herlihy Gearan. The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name the building for the Gearans.

“Two years ago, in fact many months before we even broke ground, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name the building in honor of Mark and Mary Gearan,” said Board Chair Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09. “We wished to recognize extraordinary leadership, a commitment to advancing the Colleges, and a staunch belief in the transformative power of the arts.”


Steven Bodnar Assistant Director of Communications Hobart and William Smith Colleges (315) 781-3692, office