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The black box theater planned for Lafayette’s Williams Arts Campus will be named for former College president Daniel H. Weiss and his wife, Sandra Jarva Weiss, thanks to a donation by the Board of Trustees honoring the couple’s eight years of service to the College and community.

A rendering shows new facilities at the Williams Arts Campus.

A rendering shows facilities at the Williams Arts Campus.

Among the signature accomplishments of Weiss’ presidency is the development of plans and funding for an arts campus, located at the base of College Hill, providing new facilities for Lafayette’s programs in theater and film & media studies. The Daniel H. and Sandra Weiss Black Box Theater will be housed in a new building at the corner of North Third St. and Snyder St., on the site of the former Case’s Tire building. All current members of the Board of Trustees, as well as several emeritus members, contributed to the honor for the Weisses.

In addition to the theater, plans for the facility call for a film screening room, scene and costume shops, dressing rooms, media room, student workspace, and faculty office. The Case’s building is scheduled to be torn down later this year.

Across North Third St., a transformation of the interior of the former Mohican Building into rehearsal space, media rooms, a studio, classrooms, faculty offices, and a technology room is scheduled to begin this summer. The goal is to complete the Mohican work in 18 months.

The new facilities, designed by KSS Architects of Philadelphia, will complement the Williams Visual Arts Building, which opened in 2001 as the College’s first step in revitalizing the downtown gateway area, and the adjacent Ahart Family Arts Plaza.

A 23,500-square-foot art studio and gallery complex, the visual arts building serves both the campus and the community. The open-air arts plaza, which opened in 2010, was showcased in the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, a premier international exhibition featuring innovative projects from around the world.

Last month, during Alumni Reunion, the College dedicated the arts plaza in honor of Edward W. Ahart ’69, chair of the Board of Trustees, and his wife, Catherine Ahart P’97 P’03, in recognition of their commitment to the development of the Williams Arts Campus and in tribute to the family’s devotion to the College.

“The Williams Arts Campus will serve as a vibrant gateway to Lafayette and the city and provide exciting new academic and cultural opportunities for students and the community,” Weiss said at the announcement of the project, which is made possible by a $10 million lead gift from the Morris R. Williams ’22 family. “It will be a creative hub rivaling that of any college.”

During their lifetimes, the late Morris Williams and his wife, Josephine Chidsey Williams, provided the funding for the Williams Center for the Arts, which opened in 1983. Natives of Easton, they were long-time supporters of civic and cultural life in the city. Their children, Charles K. Williams II and Joan Williams Rhame, an emerita trustee, provided major support for the Williams Visual Arts Building.

The arts campus project reflects Lafayette’s commitment to make programs in the creative arts an essential feature of the College and ensure that they are known for their outstanding quality, presence, and relevance to both the campus and larger community. It also advances the collaborative efforts of Lafayette and Easton to improve a highly traveled and visible entranceway to the College, the city, and the commonwealth.

Categorized in: Film and Media Studies, Humanities, News and Features, The Arts, Theater
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  1. R. Healey, Class of '75/6 says:

    As with just about all designations, the principle donor(s) will have final say in the naming of the structure. This is as it should be. If the principle donor(s) wish to give up this privilege and allow others to make the designations, they are both free to determine who may do so in their stead and should not be second guessed but thanked.

  2. Thomas Bruggink says:

    This honor is well-deserved and I commend the Board of Trustees. There are certainly faculty members who deserve equal recognition, too, and I hope to see this happen.

  3. Robert N. Sellar, Class of 196 says:

    Do the alumni have any vote in the designation of the naming of the theatre……………………?

    We could suggest other names of previous faculty members who might better deserve the honor……….

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