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Dartmouth unveils designs for $88 million expansion of Hopkins Center for the Arts

Plans include a new recital hall, dance studio, and outdoor plaza.

An aerial view of the designs for the renovations of the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth, featuring a new wing and exterior plaza.Courtesy Snøhetta & Methanoia

Dartmouth College revealed Thursday the first design images for the $88 million renovation and expansion of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, which will include a new outdoor plaza, performance lab, and dance studio.

Work on the “Hop,” as it’s known on campus, is slated to begin this fall and conclude in 2025. The building — which currently houses several theater spaces, the departments of music and theater, and connects to the Hood Museum of Art — is located in the campus’s arts district.

The current Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth.Courtesy Dartmouth/Dartmouth / Robert Gill

The new wing will add about 15,000 square feet to the Hop, which opened in 1962. The 55,000 square feet of existing space will also receive a face lift.


The Hanover, N.H., college first announced the renovation to the public last February, at which point it had already raised $25 million for the project. The project will help meet an “incredible demand for the arts on campus” said Mary Lou Aleskie, the director of the Hop.

“We wanted very much for the building to be able to offer opportunities for people to use more adaptive spaces and create artistic works in a way that was interdisciplinary, as opposed to the way we did in the mid-20th-century,” said Aleskie. “This isn’t about adding big, huge halls. This is about intentionally adding places that allow for people to make work.”

A rendering of the renovation and expansion of the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College.Courtesy Snøhetta & Methanoia

To helm the project, Dartmouth tapped the architecture firm Snøhetta — known for its 2017 pedestrian-friendly redesign of Times Square and the creation of an underwater restaurant in Norway. “They had a love of the building, and wanted to enhance its existence rather than obscure it or obliterate it,” said Aleskie.

Among the additions will be an outdoor plaza available for performances, an updated lobby called the “Forum,” a recital hall with room for 130 seats, and a dedicated dance studio. “We really had only had makeshift opportunities for dance in the building up until this point,” said Aleskie.


A rendering of the design for the new recital hall inside the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth. The recital hall, which will face the Baker Library Tower, will have room for about 130 seats.Courtesy Snøhetta & Methanoia

The renovation will also upgrade existing spaces of the Hop, such as the alumni hall that will be repurposed to become a performance lab, outfitted with updated technologies. The 900-seat Spaulding Auditorium, the theater rehearsal lab, and the “Top of the Hop” gathering space will also be modernized.

While the Hop is undergoing these renovations, performances and other programming will be held in other campus spaces, in the broader community, and “within the building itself when possible,” according to a press release from the college.

Funds for the project were raised through “private philanthropy,” said Aleskie, with most donations coming from alumni or the parents of students. Over the past decade, the press release said, the college has invested $190 million into its arts district, of which the Hop is a linchpin.

“We’re making the building more of a destination in every way possible,” said Aleskie. “It really is at the center of life here.”

Dana Gerber can be reached at Follow her @danagerber6.