Preservation Massachusetts honored Suffolk University’s commitment to historic preservation by presenting the University with a Paul E. Tsongas Award in recognition of its restoration of the Modern Theatre in Boston’s Historic Theater District.

The award for the University’s preservation of the Modern Theatre was presented on May 4, 2011, when Preservation Massachusetts recognized higher educational institutions that have “embraced preservation into their educational identity.”

Suffolk University’s restoration of the historic theater brought a new performance space to the Washington Street Theater District while restoring the facade of the 1914 movie theater that introduced “talkies” to Boston. A new, 10-story residence hall set back from the theater accommodates nearly 200 students.

“The University recognized how important it was for Downtown Boston to revive its historic theater district, and we are honored that Preservation Massachusetts is recognizing our efforts on behalf of the urban environment,” said John Nucci, vice president for External Affairs at Suffolk University. “Working with the City of Boston, we formulated a plan not only to meet campus housing needs, but to do so while restoring and rebuilding the Modern Theatre’s facade and creating a new theater and gallery space on Washington Street.”

The Modern Theatre project “serves as a model for other Massachusetts colleges and universities,” wrote Preservation Massachusetts President James W. Igoe in a letter announcing the award.

The new Modern Theatre opened in November 2010. Its jewel-box interior theater space draws upon design elements that are a modernization of some of the original theater’s most distinctive historic features. Inaugural programming for the state-of-the-art, 185-seat venue is focused on conversations, performances and film screenings.

The University collaborated with CBT Architects on the Modern Theatre project.