holy cross receives cross-shaped arts hub by diller scofidio + renfro

holy cross and the arts


Diller Scofidio and Renfro celebrate the completion of the Prior Performing Arts Center at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts — founded 179 years ago, marking one of the oldest Catholic higher-learning institutions in the United States. The university has progressed greatly over the years. The once all-men, Christian-run school, now sees a co-ed student body and is led by Vincent Rougeau, its first non-clerical and African American president.


Since its founding in 1843, the school has maintained a deep commitment to the arts, and its belief in art as a force for ‘addressing the world’s most pressing concerns,’ empowering students toward positive community change from a local to global scale. The new performing arts center embodies these values, all within a structure of interlocked precast concrete and weathering steel.

diller scofidio holy cross
west elevation: Public Entry Marquee, Cantor Gallery | image © Iwan Baan



artistic spaces by diller scofidio + renfro


With its Prior Performing Arts Center, the architects at Diller Scofidio + Renfro introduce 84,000 square-feet of built space to the College of the Holy Cross campus. While some studio and performance spaces are highly specialized, others are flexible and encourage engagement and collaboration between students.


The project’s many new spaces include the Luth Concert Hall, a 400-seat proscenium theater; the Boroughs Theatre, a 200-seat flexible studio space; and the relocated Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery. Meanwhile, The Beehive marks a flexible area that encourages creative collaboration between students among all disciplines. In this way, the architecture takes shape as ‘an incubator for multidisciplinary learning and creativity.’

diller scofidio holy cross

northwest elevation: Arched Entry, Sculpture Court, Large Rehearsal Room, Cantor Gallery | image © Iwan Baan



Charles Renfro, partner at DS+R and lead designer for the performing arts center, comments:The new Prior Performing Arts Center is an uncommon commons. The building is uniquely perched on a hill overlooking the campus and Worcester, yet straddles the intersection of multiple cross-campus paths.


While its world-class facilities provide a singular new home for Holy Cross’ performing arts students, its atrium invites the broader student body to participate in casual and unscripted creative activities.


The building’s dual identity is also expressed in its materials, which are tough and industrial without sacrificing warmth and comfort. We’re excited for the performing arts center to welcome students and faculty into a new kind of space for Holy Cross—one that puts intersectionality, inclusion, and interdisciplinarity at its heart.’

diller scofidio holy cross
west elevation: Public Entry Marquee, Cantor Gallery | image © Iwan Baan diller scofidio holy cross
Arched Entry with twisting GFRC and weathering steel | image © Iwan Baandiller scofidio holy cross

Beehive view from third level looking into Cantor Art Gallery and Media Lab | image © Iwan Baan