The Arts Center

The Paul Mellon Arts Center, dedicated in 1972, was designed by award-wining architect I.M. Pei, who is perhaps best known for the East Wing of the National Gallery, for which the Arts Center served as a prototype, and for the pyramid-shaped entry to the Louvre Museum in Paris. The building was a gift of benefactor Paul Mellon '25.

The eastern portion, or triangle wing, of the Paul Mellon Arts Center provides gallery space and 5 floors of fine arts studios, music classrooms, 15 music practice rooms and a 100-seat two-story Recital Hall.

The building's art studios were designed with natural light for painting, drawing, mixed media, weaving, computer graphics, architectural design and with two balconies over the gallery providing additional flexible space for the creative process.

The Paul Mellon Arts Center Galleries include a 90-foot-long uninterrupted arc of wall space in the theater lobby and a larger gallery across the courtyard that offers ample space for exhibiting the work of students, alumni, and professional local and visiting artists.

Throughout the school year there are multiple different exhibitions of work, granting the school and surrounding community the chance to see both new and emerging art as well as work from established artists. The opening receptions allow the opportunity to hear from the exhibiting artists about their personal process and what inspires them to make art.

In 2017, the school broke ground on Colony Hall, an academic and programmatic complement to the Paul Mellon Arts Center. Named in honor of Trustee George F. Colony '72, the new 50,000-square-foot Colony Hall is designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. With ample seating for faculty, staff, and students, the auditorium will serve not only as the venue for weekly all-school meetings, but as a performance hall that can accommodate both large and small audiences.

The western wing of the Paul Mellon Arts Center houses the main stage theater with seating for 770, scene shop, costume shop and Green Room. The two sides of the building are connected underground through the Chase Bear Experimental Theater. Extensive renovations are planned for this portion of the complex. The Paul Mellon Arts Center's main stage theater, to be named the William T. Little '49 and Frances A. Little Theater in recognition of the donors' lifetime giving to the School, will be completely reconfigured and outfitted for theater arts. Renovation plans include refurbishment of the building's major components, including the lobby; the main theater and audience seating; the experimental theater; scenery shop, and Katz Family Green Room. In addition to upgrading the space for theatergoers with physical disabilities, the Little Theater will also provide access for the hearing impaired including assisted listening devices.

The space will provide an acoustical setting suitable for the spoken word or amplified music, as well as a more reverberant sound for symphonic music. The west side of the auditorium will include a music classroom wing with a Recital Hall seating up to 100 people, providing rehearsal space for Choate's major music ensembles. Surrounding the Recital Hall will be additional practice rooms, faculty offices, a percussion studio and a Green Room for performers. The backstage area will contain musical instrument lockers and storage for music.

Open stairs in the lobby will lead both to the auditorium's balcony and to a new dance studio, with changing rooms and an office for the dance program. At the top of the building, a third level entrance will lead from the top rows of the balcony to a woodland path along the hillside. Colony Hall is scheduled to open in 2019.