The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University

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The Center, a 1,200-seat showcase for performance on the prairie in University Park, opened in December 1995 after a 10-year, $2 million community fund-raising campaign -- coupled with $6.2 million in state matching grants. The effort paid off nicely with a handsome seven-story brick-and-glass addition to GSU's low-slung main building. The lobby offers views of an impressive sculpture park and a lake. But maybe the nicest part of the exterior is the ample free parking, which should make the 55-minute drive down Interstate 57 from the Loop less off-putting for Chicagoans. Folks south of Cermak will find it a cinch. The Center has excellent acoustics and smartly designed seating on three levels -- science in the service of art.