Construction for $48 million PAC expansion underway

By IAN LACK Reporter

Construction has begun for the Performing Arts Center (PAC) expansion that will add almost 100,000 square feet to the building, as well as several performance venues and practice rooms.

The expansion will unite the State University Theatre, the Department of Music and students of the dance minor under one roof with an 850-seat proscenium theater, smaller recital hall, dance studio and more than 30 faculty offices.

Proposed in 2011, the project was officially green-lit last fall and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, available for use by spring 2019.

John Ackman, SDSU professor and director of theatre, said he has been waiting for this expansion for more than 40 years. Ackman is in his 26th year at South Dakota State, having received his undergraduate degree at SDSU in the ‘70s.

“It really says something, that the institution values the performing arts here,” Ackman said. “I would think that there are actually going to be bigger schools than us who will be envious of this once it’s completed.”

Cody Schwartz, a senior theatre major, said he wished he could have taken classes. He will graduate this spring, but believes the project will benefit students in performing arts programs.

“We’ve kind of struggled and grown with Doner [Auditorium], but I know this is going to be a total blessing for everyone once it’s finished,” Schwartz said. “If anyone will be looking for theatre, dance and music, this is definitely going to be a school to look at for them now.”

The budget for the project is about $48.4 million, according to Dennis Papini, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. This includes $13 million from students’ Ten-Year Higher Education Facilities Fund (HEFF) money and $6 million in donations from the City of Brookings. The remaining $31 million needed to be raised in private donations.

It was determined that the project was about $10 million short last fall. In response, President Dunn reallocated $6 million from the university’s strategic reserve funds. From there, the project was fundraised to the point where it is now within $1.5 million of being totally financed.

Due to price inflation, each year that passes before project completion would cost the university an additional $2 million, prompting the university to move forward with the project.

The dance recital room will be finished with wood sprung floors to provide shock absorption for dancers. Unlike Lincoln Hall, music recital rooms and performance spaces are being designed for sound absorption.

Papini said there is particular interest in how this will affect not only the educational experience of students who will be practicing and performing within the building, but also the accreditation of the departments.

While the music department is already accredited, the theatre department is currently seeking accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Music. This expansion is expected to aid in achieving that accreditation, as well as expanding the dance minor.

“I’ll be honest, this is a game-changer for the performing arts on our campus and in the state, and it’s something that’s extremely unusual for a state our size,” Papini said. “I would expect an economic impact for our community and for the rest of the state from this.”

Architecture Inc., a design firm based in Sioux Falls, is helming design for the expansion. They work alongside Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, a national architecture and design team based in New York.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held in late-April at the PAC to commemorate the work being done for the expansion.