Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is located in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota and hosts a variety of performing arts, such as touring Broadway musicals, orchestra, opera, and cultural performers, as well as produces local musicals.[1] It serves as a home to several local arts organizations, including the Minnesota Opera, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and The Schubert Club. Jamie Grant is currently the President and CEO. Rod Kaats is the Producing Artistic Director.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Ordway Music Theater (1985-2000)
Address345 Washington Street
St. Paul, Minnesota
United States
Coordinates44°56′41″N 93°05′54″W
CapacityMusic Theater: 1,900
Concert Hall: 1,093
OpenedJanuary 1, 1985
ArchitectBenjamin C. Thompson


In 1980, Saint Paul resident Sally Ordway Irvine (3M heiress and arts patron) dreamed of a European-style concert hall offering “everything from opera to the Russian circus.” Sally contributed $7.5 million—a sum matched by other members of the Ordway family—toward the cost of the facility. Fifteen Twin Cities corporations and foundations were the principal funders of the $46 million complex, then the most expensive privately funded arts facility ever built in the state. Saint Paul native Benjamin Thompson, whose other projects included the Faneuil Hall renovation in Boston and South Street Seaport in New York, was selected to design a building that would project “a visible contemporary image” but would also fit harmoniously on a site facing Rice Park, a block-square park framed by historic buildings. As designed by Thompson, Ordway Center (originally named Ordway Music Theatre) previously contains a Music Theater (1,900 seats). When originally built it included an intimate McKnight Theatre (306 seats); two large rehearsal rooms; and the Marzitelli Foyer, a spacious two-story lobby with a glass curtain-wall through which theater-goers enjoy a sweeping panorama of Rice Park, its surrounding buildings, and in the distance, the Mississippi River. The McKnight Theatre was demolished in 2013 to make room for the new 1,093 seat Concert Hall which opened on February 28, 2015.

Ordway Center opened to the public on January 1, 1985 as Ordway Music Theatre. The name was changed in 2000 to reflect the vast array of performing arts that take place under its roof.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts serves 400,000 people annually with nearly 500 performances in musical theater, children’s theater, world music and dance, orchestra, opera, and recitals.

About the building

Ordway Center contains the 1,900 seat Music Theater, the 1,100 seat Concert Hall, two large rehearsal halls, and lobbies on each floor, including the second floor Marzitelli Foyer, a spacious, two story lobby encircled by a glass facade.

ArchitectBenjamin Thompson and Associates
ContractorMcGough Construction
Building Area160,000 square feet (15,000 m2)
Site Area90,000 square feet (8,400 m2)
Lobby & Grand Foyer Area38,000 square feet (3,500 m2)
Back of House Area22,000 square feet (2,000 m2)
Rehearsal Room Area4,800 square feet (450 m2)


Woodwork (public areas)Honduran mahogany
Original CarpetDesigned by Benjamin Thompson and Associates. 6,000 square yards, manufactured by Mohawk Mills, Greenville, Mississippi
Lobby TileImported from Wales, United Kingdom
ChandeliersTwelve total: handcrafted chimneys from West Virginia; brass bases from Winona Studio Lighting, Winona, Minnesota
Lobby & Grand Foyer Area38,000 square feet (3,500 m2)


Main FaçadeCopper-clad exterior window and fascia system, with more than 500 insulated glass panels.
BrickworkHandmade brick by Kane Gonic Brickworks of Gonic, New Hampshire. Each brick has variation in color and texture for a rich, handcrafted texture.
Brick patternFlemish Bond. Pattern: Two “stretchers” laid lengthwise, one “header” laid crosswise.


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