St. Mary's College of Maryland Nancy R. & Norton T. Dodge Performing Arts Center & Learning Commons

St. Mary's City, MD

700-seat auditorium, recital hall, rehearsal rooms, green room, box office, lobby
Study commons, café, offices, seminar rooms
LEED Silver Certified
Managing Firm: GWWO Architects; Design Architect: GUND Partnership
St. Mary's College of Maryland
Sustainable Design, Interior Design, Full Design Services, Construction Administration, Building Information Modeling

The new performing arts center and learning commons at St. Mary’s College of Maryland integrate new program spaces into the core academic district, knitting the spaces together with campus housing to the north and enlivening and energizing the learning environment.

Located on the water, the campus’ architectural character and scale are of an Academic Tidewater Village. The design uses the vocabulary of the architectural context to unify the two new buildings in the campus’ overall composition while allowing key program elements to be expressed and celebrated. The entrance to the performing arts center is highly visible from the academic core, creating a strong connection between the facility and campus center. The learning commons sits on the northern edge of a new green space and helps to define the area between the nearby Crescent Townhomes and academic core.

The centerpiece of the new performing arts center is the 700-seat auditorium designed to host a range of performances and activities, with 450 seats on the main floor and 250 in surrounding tiers and the balcony. Inside, the building houses a recital hall, box office, green room, music practice rooms and teaching studios, choral library, instrument and records storage, and offices.


AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Public Building of the Year & Honor Award
AIA Chesapeake Bay Excellence in Design Merit Award

The learning commons features a new study commons—accessible all hours of the day for students to read, research, collaborate, and concentrate—as well as a café, vending area, kitchen, education curriculum center, offices, and seminar rooms. 

Achieving LEED Silver certification, the complex’s sustainable features include high-performance building systems, solar panels, daylighting, LED lighting, water collection, and regional materials.