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RPI Playhouse, 1990.


Proposed Performing Arts Centers
Proposals for a centralized PAC came and went during the 1960s and 1970s. Designs for an experimental theater were drafted but not approved in 1969. In 1974 a PAC Committee proposed transforming a former chapel, which then housed the library, into the Chapel Performing Arts Center. The committee hoped to take advantage of the soon-to-be-empty space while a new library was under construction. This idea also failed, but in 1979 the Trustees appointed a Performing Arts Task Force to investigate the situation.

The architectural firm of Bohlin Powell Brown conducted a feasibility study, concluding that “a single, multi-purpose, free-standing facility would not be a viable solution because of the unrealistic expense of trying to accommodate… both music and drama.” Instead, the firm recommended upgrades to existing facilities such as West Hall auditorium and/or the large lecture hall in Sage Lab for musical performances. The firm also recommended replacing the Playhouse with a new building specifically designed for theatrical productions. While new construction was not approved, a major renovation was completed in 1983, turning the former 15th Street Lounge into the 200 seat theater it is today.

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RPI Playhouse


Proposed PAC, 1969.

Sage Laboratory
elevation, 1977.

Sage Laboratory
plan, 1977.

Proposed playhouse, 1979.

PAC postcard, 1981.