Community celebrates major construction milestone on the new Crewe Center for the Arts

Supporters of the new Crewe Center for the Arts gather around the project's last structural beam before it is hoisted into place.
Gathered beside the Crewe Center’s last structural beam are (from left) Dean Adam Tuchinsky, Tom Chappell ’12H, Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 & ’12H, Dan Crewe ’22H, and Peter Plumb.

Members of the University of Southern Maine (USM) community gathered March 13th for a traditional topping off ceremony on the site of the Crewe Center for the Arts, the new performing and visual arts facility being built on the Portland campus. 

University leaders, arts faculty and students, and founding donors were joined by Consigli Construction Co., Inc. and other members of the project design/build team to mark a major milestone in the evolution of a building project when the last structural beam is put in place. The design/build team includes Pfeiffer Partners Architects, Oak Point Associates, and Consigli.

“Today’s topping off of the new Crewe Center for the Arts is a milestone that represents an important moment for both our project team and the University of Southern Maine community,” said Chris Brown, Project Executive at Consigli Construction Co., Inc. “It commemorates not just the dedication and hard work that has gone into construction thus far, but it also symbolizes Consigli’s continued commitment to excellence in delivering an impactful project that will benefit USM’s students, faculty and staff for many years to come.”

The framework of the new Crewe Center for the Arts cast shadows across Noyes Park during a ceremony to mark a construction milestone.
The framework of the Crewe Center cast shadows on the ceremony to mark a construction milestone.

The celebration began with a welcome from Corey Hascall, Vice President of the USM Foundation, followed by a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Build My House” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting It Together,” sung as a medley by USM musical theater student Rita Micklus. Adam Tuchinsky, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, spoke about the importance of the Crewe Center and recognized several founding donors. These included Daniel Crewe ’22H, the Center’s namesake and Chair of the Crewe Center for the Arts Campaign, as well as Kate Cheney Chappell ’83, ’12H, and her husband Tom ’12H Chappell, co-chairs of the Crewe Center Leadership Committee, and Peter and Pam Plumb, longtime members of the Crewe Center for the Arts Leadership Committee and the Music Advisory Board.

Describing the game-changing impact of the new arts facility, Dean Tuchinsky said, “The Crewe Center will transform the teaching and learning experience for our talented faculty and students, open the doors to wider community collaboration in music, theater, and the visual arts, and greatly benefit Maine’s unique creative economy. We are deeply grateful to our trailblazing donors who are helping us realize this vision.”

Osher Music School student Rita Micklus sings "Build My House" from Leonard Bernstein's "Peter Pan" at the topping off ceremony for the new Crew Center for the Arts.
Osher Music School student Rita Micklus sang a medley of Leonard Bernstein’s “Build My House” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting It Together.”

At the construction milestone event, guests were invited to sign the steel beam, which was then ceremoniously lifted by crane into place, accompanied by applause and cheers from the attendees and the construction crew. Adorning the beam were two symbolic elements: an American flag and a small evergreen tree.

The Crewe Center for the Arts will become the new home of USM’s highly acclaimed Dr. Alfred and D. Suzi Osher School of Music, named in honor of Mrs. Osher and her late husband, Dr. Alfred Osher. A $10 million gift from Mrs. Osher paved the way for construction of the new facility––the largest monetary gift in USM Foundation history. Another significant contribution of more than $6 million came from the Crewe Foundation, established by Dan Crewe to honor his late brother, the legendary singer, songwriter, and producer, Bob Crewe. The University has named the new arts center in honor of the Crewe brothers.

The $63 million Crewe Center project and construction is being funded through a combination of private philanthropy and public investment, including $9 million from ongoing capital
funding provided to the University of Maine System by Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature. To date, the USM Foundation has raised more than $20 million in philanthropic donations. Fundraising for an additional $3.2 million to complete the next phase of the project is underway. 

Once the signal is given, a crane hoists the final structural beam into place atop the new Crewe Center for the Arts.
The Crewe Center’s final structural beam makes its ascent, adorned with a small tree and American flag.

With a footprint of approximately 40,000 square feet, the Crewe Center will have state-of-the-art facilities for music teaching, learning, and performance, and establish a Portland presence for USM’s theater, dance, and visual arts programs. The Center’s key spaces include the 200-seat Performance Hall that can accommodate smaller ensembles, opera, and dance performances; the multipurpose Arts Lab for recitals, rehearsals, and other events; the Great Hall Gallery exhibition space; and the Visual Arts Studio, home to the Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for Book Arts. Outdoor spaces are planned for concerts, a sculpture garden, and a visual arts terrace.

When completed in fall 2025, the Crewe Center for the Arts is expected to boost enrollment at USM’s Osher School of Music, attracting talented students from Maine and throughout the northeast. The Osher School has a 60-year legacy as a premier program and training ground for musicians and teachers and its influence can be felt all over the world. Distinguished and award-winning graduates include Grammy winners, Metropolitan Opera singers, nationally known soloists, and music entrepreneurs. The school is also the backbone of K-12 music education in Maine, with choral and band professionals leading programs across the state.

Situated at the corner of Deering Avenue and Bedford Street, the Crewe Center for the Arts is a signature part of USM’s Portland campus transformation, which also includes the newly opened McGoldrick Center for Career & Student Success, Bean Green campus quad, and Portland Commons residence hall. These buildings are among the most sustainable ever constructed at USM. The new Crewe Center for the Arts is expected to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. 

About Consigli Construction Co., Inc.

Consigli Construction Co., Inc. is a leading construction manager in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Consigli services clients across all markets, including academic, healthcare, life sciences, institutional, energy, corporate and federal. Founded in 1905, Consigli is now a 100% employee-owned (ESOP) company, providing its people a direct benefit of its success and creating a culture of accountability. The company has offices in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Maine, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, New Hampshire and the Caribbean. Consigli has received numerous awards for its craftsmanship and employment practices, including consistent national recognition as a Forbes Best Employer.