Final Construction Beam Placed on New Theater

Officials representing Virginia Peninsula Community College, the VCCS, contractor W.M. Jordan and the architect firm of RRMM commemorated the placing of the final beam on the College’s new auditorium Friday with the traditional topping out ceremony.

“It was just four months ago that we were here for groundbreaking,” said VPCC President Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon. “To see the progress that’s been made, it is incredible.”

Placing the last steel beam is a major milestone in a building project, and often that beam is painted white with members of the construction team, designers, others involved in the project, and dignitaries signing the beam. Friday, Ron Lauster, president of W.J. Jordan, invited everyone in attendance to sign the beam.

The roof on the old theater, the Dr. Mary T. Christian Auditorium, collapsed April 5, 2021. Housed in Templin Hall, the theater and campus were closed due to the pandemic, and no one was injured. During a groundbreaking ceremony for the new theater on Dec. 11, 2023, Dr. Brannon said the facility’s opening is targeted for spring 2025. That still is the case.

“The next anniversary of the collapse, we hope we are having a ribbon-cutting,” Dr. Brannon said Friday. “I invite you all back for that momentous occasion.”

The previous auditorium was named for Hampton educator and state delegate Dr. Mary T. Christian. It featured plush seating, a balcony, an orchestra pit, a stage, supporting dressing, wardrobe and practice rooms, and a set construction workshop. The new facility will seat 494 guests, a slight increase from the previous venue.

The name of the new theater has not been determined. College officials will consider several factors and collect stakeholders’ input before providing naming recommendations to the Local College Board, which is responsible for approving the names of campus facilities.

The project, designed by RRMM Architects, is expected to cost $17 million and is being funded by VCCS and insurance.