Rider unveiled its brand-new North Hall academic building and the Performing Arts addition to the Bart Luedeke Center with a ribbon-cutting and a raising of the curtain on September 13.
Sean Ramsden

North Hall was dedicated on September 13, 2011, amidst Rider's Cranberry Fest activities.

On a day when the University’s history and heritage were being celebrated at Cranberry Fest, the Rider community dedicated a new academic building, adjoining plaza and Performing Arts addition in the Bart Luedeke Center on Tuesday, September 13.

“Rider’s history is replete with innovation, whether new programs, new people or new facilities. For 146 years, our University has evolved as a dynamic and innovative institution committed to the success of our students,” said Rider President Mordechai Rozanski at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the new academic building, known for now as North Hall. “And, in that context, our facilities have been continuously enhanced.”

The $12.9 million combined project includes the new 21,000-square-foot academic building and a large plaza which leads to North and Memorial Halls. North Hall features nine classrooms, two seminar rooms, 16 faculty and departmental offices, and a multipurpose conference room. Ground for the structure was broken in May 2010. While the building is home to Rider’s History and Philosophy department offices, its classrooms serve all programs throughout the University.  North Hall becomes the first strictly academic facility to be built on the Lawrenceville campus since Sweigart Hall in 1988.

The North Hall dedication took place on the oblong-shaped plaza that stretches in front the new building. The plaza was constructed to serve as a focal point and gathering spot for Rider students and community members at the urging of Les Kaplan ’60 and his wife, Barbara, for whom the space is now named. Kaplan Plaza, which was the site of the University’s poignant 9/11 Remembrance ceremony two days earlier, was also generously supported by Joel Perlmutter ’58 and Wayne Canastra ’72.

The project’s other key component is the debut of the 10,000-square-foot Performing Arts addition in the Bart Luedeke Center. This performing arts space preserves the 350-seat audience area of the preexisting auditorium, and now includes a full teaching and production theater.  The addition incorporates a large production stage; new lighting and acoustics; a screen and prop shop; dressing and costume rooms and a green room; and a 1,500-square-foot dance and rehearsal studio with a sprung floor and high ceiling. On the main floor, the enlarged stage is flanked by wings and capped by a grid and fly to accommodate sophisticated staging and sets.

Rozanski said that North Hall and the performing arts space represent far more than just classrooms, residence halls, laboratories or offices.

“They are also magnets, both attracting students, faculty and staff to our campus and enabling them to actively teach and learn here, as well as to live, work and play—in effect, to participate fully in the life of the University,” he said.

The majority of funds for the projects come from donations, Rozanski said, anchored by a gift in excess of $5 million from the estate of Franklin B. “Hank” Moore II and his wife, Bonnie. Hank Moore, who died in 2008, was the grandson of Franklin Benjamin Moore, president of Rider from 1898 to 1934, and the son of Franklin Frazee Moore, who served as president from 1934 until 1969.

“Without this generous bequest, we would not be opening this building today,” said Rozanski, who also lauded the leadership of Trustees Bill Rue ’69 and Gary Shapiro ’72, co-chairs of the committee to fund the project and major donors, as well as the generosity of Trustees Michael Kennedy ’72, ’75, Tom Lynch ’75, Don Monks ’70, and former Trustee Fil Spizzirro ’53.

After the lunchtime Cranberry Fest activities, the Performing Arts addition made a dramatic debut, with the curtain rising to reveal a group of Musical Theater students from the Westminster College of the Arts, who performed When You Wish Upon a Star and a selection from the musical Wonderland.

“I am thrilled this critically important facility has become a reality,” said Robert Annis, dean and director of the Westminster College of the Arts, of the theater. “When we first began exploring the opportunities and challenges of creating a College of the Arts, we knew that a number of programs from our Princeton campus would relocate to Lawrenceville and merge with existing and successful arts programs in the School of Fine and Performing Arts.”

Annis explained that while the growing Musical Theater program and the anticipated enrollment growth for the entire College of the Arts were key factors in planning the expanded stage and its supporting facilities, the end result needed to serve and benefit the entire University, including Student Life and Student Affairs, Auxiliary Services, Admissions, and community outreach.

“The facility we are opening today meets those needs, and we are very happy this goal has become a reality,” he said.

Rozanski praised those who made substantial commitments to help fund the project, including Rider Trustee Art Stainman ’65, who has named the Rehearsal Room and Dance Studio, and former faculty member Buddy Mayo, whose name now graces the Green Room inside the new theater.

North Hall was built to meet Silver certification standards by The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.

The project was designed by Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., an award-winning, full-service architectural and sustainable design firm from Trenton, and constructed by Seacoast Builders of Freehold. Spiezle is noted for its expertise in and commitment to sustainable construction.

Rider pledged to meet the USGBC’s LEED standards when Rozanski signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, directing that all further new campus construction would be LEED certified. Rider’s West Village Residence Halls, which opened in fall 2009, were certified LEED Silver shortly after their completion.

The theater expansion also utilized sustainable methods of construction, including low-emitting materials, energy-efficient HVAC equipment, a white roof for heat reflection and regional construction materials – all methods also used in the construction of North Hall. Construction waste produced by the construction of North Hall and the theater expansion projects was also recycled.