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Forbes Center for the Performing Arts

The Forbes Center at James Madison University comprises five distinct venues, representing a significant evolution from its predecessors - a multi-purpose auditorium and a black-box theater from the 1960s. It now provides dedicated spaces equipped with advanced technology for theater, music, and dance, highlighting the University's strong commitment to the arts.

Featuring highly adaptable acoustics in its Concert and Recital Halls, a tension wire grid that echoes the Proscenium Theater's thrust stage, and versatile seating arrangements, the center facilitates both rehearsals and performances in unified spaces. These retractable seating systems in the Proscenium and Studio Theaters enhance audience and performance dynamics, showcasing a commitment to flexible and immersive artistic experiences.

Positioned on Main Street, which is also a U.S. highway, the Center prioritizes safety with an underground viaduct that links the campus directly to both the Forbes Center and a new parking facility. This cultural arts corridor not only attracts individuals across disciplines but also integrates JMU’s iconic quad with the community, positioning the Forbes Center as a cornerstone of arts and education.

“The facility is only a few months old and we are remarkably satisfied by the practical and aesthetic integrity of the spaces. The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts at James Madison University is a gem.”

– Richard Finkelstein, professor and artistic director, James Madison University

  • Sector: Higher Education
  • Scope: Architecture, Interior Design
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • 2010
  • 175,244 SF
  • Photos courtesy of © Robert Benson Photography
  • Interior Design Honor Award, AIA HR, 2011
  • Interior Design Merit Award, AIA VA, 2011
  • Architecture Merit Award, United States Institute for Theatre Technology, 2011
Project Team
Jane Cady Rathbone
Robert V. Reis
Design Principal
William G. Hopkins
Project Manager
Christopher M. Charles
Project Architect
Matthew J. Lee
Interior Designer
Howard Performance Architecture
Design Architect
Theatre Projects Consultants
Theatre Specialist
Jaffe Holden Acoustics Inc.
Acoustic Consultant
Fisher Marantz Stone
Lighting Designer
HC Yu and Associates
MEP Engineering
Stroud Pence & Associates, Ltd.
Structural Engineering
Hurt & Proffitt
Civil Engineering
Daedalus Projects
Cost Estimator