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Colby College is pleased to announce a $3.35-million gift to support the forthcoming Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts. In recognition, the building’s forum will be named in the donors’ honor. The forum, at the heart of the building, will be a dynamic, flexible space designed to connect the community through a range of uses, from informal gatherings to student performances and exhibitions.
“I am grateful to this Colby family for their incredible generosity,” said Colby President David A. Greene about the donors, who have chosen to remain anonymous at this time. “They share our belief in the power of innovation and creativity in developing the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that are at the core of a Colby education. Their ongoing support and thoughtful approach toward programs and projects that are deeply personal have made an immediate and lasting impact on the College.”
The Gordon Center, slated to open in fall 2023, is the largest academic building project in the College’s history. Its multipurpose spaces include a signature performance hall; flexible studios for performance, teaching, and exploration; classrooms and music practice rooms; recording and video editing suites; and an arts incubator. Designed for innovative teaching, performing, working, and creating, it will foster creativity and collaboration among students and faculty across the disciplines and will contribute to a growing robust arts ecosystem in central Maine.
“Our commitment to academic support and the creative and performing arts more broadly at Colby stems from a very simple idea: The more students and faculty are exposed to different ways of thinking, divergent communities, and alternate styles of teaching and learning, the richer the community becomes,” said the donors.
The building’s forum is a vibrant welcoming space with a two-story glass exterior facing Mayflower Hill that visually connects the Gordon Center to the center of campus. As the creative hub of the building, the forum will overlook a spacious patio and connect to three unique studios, an arts incubator, a performance hall, a café, and several flexible gathering spaces.
“The Gordon Center will bring together students, faculty, community members, and creators from all disciplines,” said Diamond Family Director of the Arts Teresa McKinney. “The forum will be its centerpiece, the spirit of the building as an incubator for emerging art forms that will shape how we inspire creative expression, advance problem solving, and build a dynamic cultural understanding of the world.”
A robust arts ecosystem
The Gordon Center, to be built at the southern gateway to campus, will be a key part of Colby’s ongoing efforts to make the arts a more central component of life in Waterville, deepening connections among the College, Waterville, and surrounding central Maine communities and supporting a shared commitment to the arts and growing the region’s creative economy.
In addition to the Colby College Museum of Art and the Lunder Institute for American Art, the Gordon Center will provide Colby students, faculty, and the community with the best-in-class facilities and resources necessary to support a distinctive performing and creative arts program within the liberal arts. Downtown’s arts collaborative and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center will further amplify the arts in the community, making Colby and Waterville a destination for arts and culture. These facilities will attract intellectually creative students and faculty, strengthen partnerships with artists and art organizations, and support broader regional access to world-class performances.
World-class, program-based building design
Designed by renowned architect William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc., the Gordon Center will provide a new home for Colby’s Departments of Theater and Dance and Music and the Cinema Studies Program. Studios and makerspaces, combined with performance venues that have the capacity to inspire multiple types of performance and creation, will define the new building and provide critical space for academic and cocurricular activities and programs, teaching, rehearsal, and performance. Colby’s first dedicated arts incubator and film screening and recording studios will support creative expression that incorporate multimedia and interactive technologies that are central to a 21st-century arts program.
This gift builds on the lead gift by Trustee Michael Gordon ’66 and a $5-million commitment from Trustee Marieke Rothschild P’16 and Jeff Rothschild P’16, moving the vision for the Gordon Center ever closer to being fully realized.
Enabling projects to make way for the Gordon Center at the gateway to campus on the south end of Mayflower Hill began in October 2020 with a major road project, landscaping, and construction of a multi-tiered parking lot. A groundbreaking is expected in summer 2021 with an opening anticipated two years later.