Eisenhower Auditorium to undergo facility improvements beginning in June

February 10, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Eisenhower Auditorium on the Penn State campus will be closed to performances and other events from approximately June through November as the 46-year-old building undergoes facility improvements. The building will continue to be occupied by employees, and the box office will remain open throughout the construction period.

The Center for the Performing Arts, with offices in Eisenhower, will hold a modified fall schedule of events and performances at other theaters and auditoriums on the campus. The 2020-21 event schedule is expected to be released in May, with Eisenhower set to resume its normal operations and performance schedule in December.

“I am grateful that Penn State is continuing to make important and necessary investments in Eisenhower Auditorium,” said George Trudeau, director of the Center for the Performing Arts.  “As the region’s premier proscenium performance venue, Eisenhower is a singularly unique and valuable resource for Penn State and central Pennsylvania.”

Most of the work being completed on the facility is “behind the scenes,” including mechanical system upgrades, emergency lighting modernization, and providing improved accessibility for performers to the dressing area from both the exterior entrance and the stage. As part of the maintenance, an abandoned cooling tower and enclosure will be converted to a new accessible “performer’s entry” to the dressing area. A full roof replacement also will be performed concurrently with this phase.

Common in renovations of older facilities, some asbestos abatement will occur as part of this phase. As always, precautions during removal will be taken and all state and federal regulations will be followed.

This renovation work comes as a result of a Facility Evaluation and Improvements Feasibility Study performed for the university by Voith & Mactavish Architects, LLP (VMA), of Philadelphia, in December 2015.  The firm was hired to undertake a comprehensive assessment and prioritization of the auditorium’s maintenance and operational needs for a multi-phase improvement project. Previously completed work has included fire curtain and rigging replacement, as well as stage floor repairs.

Future phases will be required to meet ongoing deferred maintenance, capital renewal and capital improvement needs. The total number of future phases or timing of future phases has not yet been established and will be developed as required.

“The importance of keeping this performance space in top condition is a primary goal of this phased renovation,” said Bill Sitzabee, associate vice president for the Office of Physical Plant. “We know the significant and central role that Eisenhower Auditorium plays in the cultural life of our university community, and we understand the need for expediency. However, more importantly, the need to preserve and upgrade this entertainment and gathering space is also a reality that we must address so that future long-term use of this facility is possible.”

Eisenhower, with a seating capacity of 2,500, is Penn State's primary theatrical performance space. Opened in 1974 and later named for former University President Milton S. Eisenhower, the auditorium hosts almost 200 events each year.

Last Updated February 10, 2020