Unveiling ‘The Riz’

Apr 202004
Authors: Josh Huseby

The School of the Arts at CSU has a new performance center. The

Edna Rizley Griffen Concert Hall, The Riz, was officially unveiled

Tuesday during a ceremony held at the buildings cornerstone.

Michael Thaunt, the co-chair of the Department of Music, Theatre

and Dance, opened the event by first thanking the many donors whose

contributions made the construction of the $7.3 million,

27,000-square-foot facility possible.

“It’s a world-class facility,” Thaunt said. “I think building an

educational building with that sense of excellence and quality is

something that really moves me. That’s what we are thanking the

donors for.”

Thaunt also expressed his hope that The Riz, which will begin

hosting performances in the fall, will reach out to the community

as a whole.

“This is extremely exciting and I hope you reach out to this

place with ownership and pride,” Thaunt said.

Classically inspired columns welcome visitors to The Riz, a

design meant to mirror the fa�ade of the original high

school built in 1924. The building’s rich history connects the

university to the community in a new way. CSU President Larry

Penley spoke at the ceremony about the facility’s community


“It stands here on the edge of the university, part within the

university, part without,” Penley said. “In celebration of what

this university does, to lift the spirits of this community and to

build the quality of life of the community in which a great

university exists.”

Behind the granite cornerstone is a time capsule preserving

donor testimonials, a copy of the Associated Students of CSU bill

supporting the performing arts and a copy of “Home of the

Champions,” a history of Fort Collins High School written by Donald


Many Fort Collins residents and Fort Collins High School

graduates, including Pikes wife Marian Pike, attended the


“I think it’s beautiful. It’s a wonderful addition,” said Marian

Pike who was at first worried that it might detract from the old

school building. “The outside blends with the school beautifully.

My husband would be thrilled to know it would always be used for


Marian Pike graduated from Fort Collins High School in 1947 and

went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in 1951 and a master’s

degree in 1956.

“Back then there wasn’t quite 5,000 students,” she said.

The opening of The Riz is phase one of the planned Center for

the Arts Complex that will one day call the old high school home.

According to Thaunt construction on phase two, the conversion of

the old gymnasium into a theater complex that will replace the

Johnson Hall main stage, will break ground later this summer.

For now the lobby and accompanying 550-seat auditorium that

makes up The Riz will add a new dimension to the performing arts at


“We’re welcoming the community of Fort Collins,” President

Penley said. “And the community within the university to the

celebration of a wonderful addition to CSU.”

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