Teaching Theatre construction begins in summer

James Vaughn

The university starts construction for the Teaching Theatre this summer, so students will return to construction after having none on campus for a year.

The theatre will replace the 50-year-old theatre that is located about four miles away from campus. 

Construction dates will be confirmed when bids are recieved from contractors in July. When contractors give bids to the university, the university will decide which contractor to choose. In most cases, the contractor that gives the lowest bid will be chosen. 

USI will spend $16.5 million on the project. Steve Helfrich, facilities, operations and planning director, said the theatre cost is estimated at $13 million.


“Once we know the actual cost for the theatre, we will make plans to use the difference for furnishings, theatre equipment and miscellaneous costs,” Helfrich said.

Helfrich said the construction will not have much of an impact on students and will be an extension of Univeristy Center (UC) East.

“The lower-level entrance to UC East will become a closed-off construction site,” Helfrich said. “Other than that, there will be minor, if any work, on existing buildings.”

There is one concern.

“A question that we have for the architects is how the construction will impact the loading dock on the south end of UC East,” Helfrich said.

Helfrich said he does not see parking becoming a problem in the fall.

“There won’t be a lot of construction workers on campus until the structure is erected, which won’t be this fall,” Helfrich said. “In the spring, we’ll ask the workers to park so that it doesn’t affect parking for the students or faculty.” 

Freshman theatre major Presley Roy is excited for the new theatre.

“I think it’s wonderful, and I know everyone in the department is eager for the building process to begin,” Roy said.

She pointed out the Theatre Department is growing, and the space would provide a lot more opportunities for more students.

“The new theatre is going to give us room to accommodate everyone and do different types of shows that we could never do in the Mallette,” Roy said.

As for the Mallette Theatre, which is located in the basement of the Liberal Arts Center, Liberal Arts Dean Michael Aakhus said it is not going anywhere.

“We’ll still make great use of the space even as we moved forward with the new theatre,” Aakhus said.

The 350-seat theatre will be used primarily for productions while the Mallette Theatre will be used as a teaching ground.

“We’ll use it for student produced plays since that space is a lot more intimate,” Aakhus said.

Holzman, Moss and Bottino, an architecture firm from New York City, will design the theatre. They were also the architects for UC East.

Aakhus said they decided to go back to them for the new extension to the UC East.

“I think they are wonderful and their designs are outstanding,” Aakhus said. “They were great to work with.”

Aakhus said the theatre is scheduled to open in Fall 2014 or Spring 2015 depending on construction.

To preview the Teaching Theatre or go on the virtual tour, click here