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Thread: BAM Cultural District: Theater for a New Audience - by Hugh Hardy

  1. #1

    Default BAM Cultural District: Theater for a New Audience - by Hugh Hardy

    March 24, 2004

    New Theater for Brooklyn Arts District


    The new theater would be adjacent to the Brooklyn Academy.

    A $22 million, 299-seat theater designed by the architects Frank Gehry and Hugh Hardy is expected to be the newest ornament of a growing cultural district in Brooklyn.

    The multipurpose experimental space, to be built on a city-owned parking lot adjacent to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, would serve as the first permanent home for the Theater for a New Audience, a 25-year-old Off Broadway company known for its productions of Shakespeare and classical drama as well as its educational programs in New York City schools.

    The city's Economic Development Corporation has committed $6.2 million to the building's construction. The 40-member board of the Theater for a New Audience, which includes Zoe Caldwell, Robert Caro, Dana Ivey and Julie Taymor, has mounted a campaign to raise the balance of the money for the building, which the theater will own and operate.

    Harvey Lichtenstein, chairman of the BAM Local Development Corporation, said he expected that the new building would give the cultural district even greater momentum. "It is a significant milestone on the way to our goal of establishing an arts district that will serve the neighborhood, Brooklyn and the whole city," he said.

    The nonprofit development corporation is in its fourth year of overseeing a 10-year, $630 million master plan to create an arts district in the environs of downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and Clinton Hill.

    The theater is to be built next to the planned Brooklyn Public Library for the Visual and Performing Arts designed by Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos in Mexico City. Both buildings are scheduled to be completed in 2008.

    The new theater would join a nucleus of other arts buildings clustered around the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The cultural district would offer mixed-income housing, studios and performance and rehearsal spaces as part of a master plan created by architects including Rem Koolhaas, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio.

    Other facilities already in place are the academy, the Mark Morris Dance Studio, the BAM Harvey Theater and a recycled office building, owned by the Alliance of Resident Theaters/New York, that provides rehearsal and administrative space for 21 small theater companies.

    The BAM development corporation's $6 million renovation of the James E. Davis Arts Building, at 80 Hanson Place, is scheduled for completion this summer. It is to house 15 to 20 cultural organizations.

    The triangular parking lot site for the library and the proposed theater is just across Ashland Place from the academy's main building and the nearly adjacent Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, the area's most prominent landmark. The other sides of the theater would border Flatbush and Lafayette Avenues. The current 125-car parking space is to be replaced by a 400-vehicle underground garage.

    "Having its own home will be transformative for our theater," said Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director and founder of the Theater for a New Audience. "It would give us a permanent place in a community and give us more money to spend on our productions, instead of renting space."

    The 25,000-square-foot new theater building is to include a main stage, a 50-seat rehearsal and performance space, and room for administrative offices. There would also be a cafe facing a tree-bordered public area — also available for exhibitions and performances — in front of the new library. Mr. Horowitz said the design was based on historic Elizabethan courtyard theaters and was inspired by the Cottesloe Theater of the Royal National Theater in London.

    Like the Cottesloe, the new building would permit many different audience configurations, including the classic proscenium stage as well as a thrust stage and a theater in the round. It is to have a high ceiling and a trapped floor, allowing actors access to the stage from underneath it, "which is essential for Shakespearean characters, many of whom, like Caliban, enter from below," Mr. Horowitz said.

    The theater company was founded by Mr. Horowitz in 1979 to encourage the performance and study of classic drama. It has introduced more than 100,000 public school students to Shakespeare.

    Although its productions have not always been accorded critical raves, the company has been nominated many times for Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League awards, and has won several Lucille Lortel and Obie awards.

    The proposed new theater would "be a friendly neighbor and will provide educational programs for the community," said Susan Goldfinger, senior vice president of the real-estate development department of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which has committed $6.2 million from the Mayor's capital budget for the theater's construction. The city-owned land is to be conveyed to the theater through a long-term ground lease.

    Some community groups have angrily opposed the proposed arrival of a $485 million New Jersey Nets arena, the centerpiece of a $2.5 billion residential and commercial complex that the developer Bruce C. Ratner envisions for the area straddling the Atlantic Avenue rail yards not far from the academy. Mr. Gehry is also the prospective architect of the Nets project.

    Some local residents fear that an influx of arts groups would further drive up rents in the neighborhood, pushing out working-class minority residents.

    Mr. Lichtenstein, the Brooklyn Academy's leader from 1967 to 1999, said the area had been gentrifying long before the advent of the cultural district. "We're encouraging the construction of middle-income housing there," he said, adding that no existing structures would be displaced to make way for the new theater, except for those in parking lot.

    "I think the neighborhood would welcome it, because it's not about lining some developer's pocket," Patti Hagan said of the new theater. She is spokeswoman for the Prospect Heights Action Coalition, which has opposed Mr. Ratner's plan. Mr. Ratner is also the development partner of The New York Times Company in a new building for the newspaper's headquarters.

    Mr. Horowitz, who lives in Boerum Hill, said the theater could be rented to cultural organizations and local groups 12 to 16 weeks a year, when company productions were not running. "Our educational programs will reach out to the neighborhood," he said.

    The theater company, which has a $3 million annual operating budget, has been looking for a permanent home since 1997.

    "The theater is tiny, and the budget is tiny," Mr. Gehry said, "but we hope this can lead to an interesting space." He has designed theaters in Los Angeles and Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and is creating another in Miami.

    As currently envisioned the theater is to have an open, glassy lobby space that would be "its own marquee, statement and front door," said Mr. Hardy, an architect on many previous theater projects, including the renovations of the New Victory, the New Amsterdam, the Joyce and Radio City Music Hall.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

    BAM Cultural District

  2. #2


    I see Shakespeare in the lobby. The Globe on Flatbush Ave. A nice alternative to typical Brooklyn.

  3. #3
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    Looks much more Hardyish than Gehryesque. Archispeak?

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Gulcrapek
    Looks much more Hardyish than Gehryesque. Archispeak?
    Is that titanium? I see cladded onto the side of the tiny multipurpose 299 seat theater. If so it looks more Gehryesque to me.

  5. #5
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    Maybe. In which case one side is Hardy, and another is Gehry... weird.

  6. #6


    Maybe. In which case one side is Hardy, and another is Gehry... weird.
    I'd say the building is the best of both and its a coherent piece.

  7. #7


    February 4, 2005

    Theater Troupe to Get a $38 Million Brooklyn Home


    A rendering of the proposed home for Theater for a New Audience, near the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

    hakespeare, your new home away from home is Flatbush-upon-Lafayette," the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, announced yesterday.

    With those words, the city unveiled a design yesterday for a $38 million glass and stainless steel theater designed by Hugh Hardy and Frank Gehry that would rise opposite the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the borough's Fort Greene section.

    The building, at the intersection of Flatbush and Lafayette Avenues, will be the first permanent home for the Theater for a New Audience, a troupe known for its productions of Shakespeare and classical drama.

    The theater is the first linchpin of the new BAM Cultural District, a $650 million effort to convert vacant and underused properties in the area into space for arts organizations.

    Opening the news conference where the building's model was presented, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the city had pledged $6.2 million for construction of the theater from its capital budget. It will be "one of the anchors of a burgeoning downtown Brooklyn cultural district," he said, adding, "It will make this borough an even greater destination for tourists."

    Kate D. Levin, the New York City cultural affairs commissioner, said she expected the theater to be built within two years. If so, it would probably be the first cultural building to be completed by Mr. Gehry in New York. (He is also designing a performing arts center at ground zero.)

    The theater, modeled after an Elizabethan courtyard theater, is to have three spectator galleries and a movable floor that can be adjusted to form various stage configurations, Mr. Hardy said. It will have a 299-seat auditorium, a cafe, roof garden and education space; the troupe now brings Shakespeare to about 3,000 city students a year.

    The building includes expanses of glass on three sides to foster a sense of transparency and openness, said Jeffrey Horowitz, founder of the Theater for a New Audience; it also includes an undulating marquee that might be viewed as a signature Gehry flourish. Visible through the wall of glass facing Flatbush Avenue would be a series of graphic portraits of Shakespeare by Milton Glaser, the artist known for the "I Love New York" logo from the 1970's, Mr. Hardy said.

    Stainless shingles on the exterior will shift in color and visual texture as the light changes throughout the day, the architect said.

    Although the theater has no fly space for scenery to be stored above the stage, Mr. Horowitz insisted on trap space below ground, Mr. Hardy said. As a result, he said, he designed the theater to be built "one level in the air."

    The news conference was held at Mark Morris Dance Center, which overlooks the city-owned parking lot that is to be the site of the new theater. Designs for the Brooklyn Public Library Visual and Performing Arts, another building planned for the cultural site, also went on view yesterday, at the Architectural League of New York in Manhattan.

    While architects often team up on projects, one often takes a secondary role. Mr. Hardy emphasized yesterday that the theater had been a full-fledged collaboration with Mr. Gehry. "It's not important who did what," he said. Mr. Gehry, who was unable to attend the news conference, said in a telephone interview: "It's mostly Hugh's building. They didn't really need me."

    Mr. Gehry said he has long been a fan of the Joyce Theater in Chelsea, also designed by Mr. Hardy. It is "one of the best dance theaters I've ever been to," he said.

    The Theater for a New Audience pairs contemporary artists with classic authors. In imagining a home for the troupe, Mr. Horowitz said, he wanted to model the theater after the Cottesloe Theater in London, with its sense of the theater-as-laboratory. "This is first for the artists," Mr. Horowitz said. "That's who we're building the building for - the Julie Taymors."

    Ms. Taymor, the theater director behind "The Lion King," the film "Titus Andronicus" and the new "Magic Flute" at the Metropolitan Opera, has worked extensively with the Theater for a New Audience and is the honorary chairwoman of its capital campaign.

    "When you're a vagabond," a place of your own can make a big difference, Ms. Taymor said yesterday. A permanent place suggests "something exciting is going to happen there," she said.

    Officials from Brooklyn heralded the building as a harbinger of hope in uncertain financial times. "Particularly at a time when arts and culture in our schools are being cut," said Letitia James, a city councilwoman who represents part of Brooklyn, "welcome to Fort Greene."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  8. #8


    New Gehry-Hardy Design for Brooklyn Theatre Unveiled

    By Robert Simonson

    February 3, 2005

    The Frank Gehry-Hugh Hardy design for Theatre for a New Audience's new BAM home.

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Feb. 3 unveiled architects Frank Gehry and Hugh Hardy's collaborative design for Theatre for a New Audience's new home in the emerging BAM Cultural District in Downtown Brooklyn.The building will be the first theatre to be constructed in the new district. It will contain a 299-seat flexible theatre, a 50-seat rehearsal/performance space, a café, offices, and, in a throwback to the early days of Broadway, a roof garden. The total cost of the project is $35.8 million.
    By making the move, the 25-year-old Theatre for a New Audience will become the first major New York nonprofit theatre not to be located in Manhattan. The theatre will receive $6.2 million in City support through the BAM Local Development Corporation (BAM LDC), which is chaired by Harvey Lichtenstein, and the Department of Cultural Affairs.

    Gehry is the maverick international architect whose singular creations include the twisted metal Guggenheim Museum on Bilbao, Spain. Hardy is known for his restoration or several classic Times Square theatres, including the New Victory and the New Amsterdam.

    The building is in keeping with Gehry's reputation for unorthodox structures and sometimes outrageous whimsy. The theatre resembles an enormous packing box turned on its side, with a wall of glass covering the open end facing Flatbush Avenue. The sides of the building are clad in large, patterned, rectangular stainless-steel shingles with angled planes of glass. An undulated canopy floats along the side and two arching side windows shed light on a series of curvilinear stairways and balconies inside, as well as a Milton Glaser mural integrating a series of portraits of Shakespeare.

    Harvey Lichtenstein, BAM Local Development Corporation Chairman, said, "It is a joy for me to welcome Theatre for a New Audience to the BAM Cultural District and to become part of this community. Under Jeffrey Horowitz' visionary leadership, Theatre for a New Audience has grown into one of New York's most progressive companies, attracting some of America and Europe's most imaginative artists. The design is amazing. It's the most beautiful and cost-effective theatre of its kind in New York City."

    Jeffrey Horowitz said, "Theatre for a New Audience's new home will be more than a stage. It will be a center devoted to the power of language in the theatre. We will produce Shakespeare alongside classics and modern plays exploring common themes between past and present... We will reach out to other theatre companies and when Theatre for New Audience is not in production, our performance spaces will be available for rental." Horowitz said that the main stage, a rectangular space which combines an Elizabethan-style courtyard theatre with a flexible contemporary auditorium, was inspired by the Cottesloe Theatre of London's Royal National Theatre. It has high ceilings and a trapped floor, and the audience and stage can be arranged in different configurations such as thrust, in-the-round, proscenium or runway.

    Beginning Feb. 4, an exhibition on the new theatre with models and renderings will be on display to the public at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place in Manhattan.

  9. #9


    All the world's privy to this stage


    February 4, 2005

    In a city where bulk is often confused with beauty, one of the most lovable architectural proposals to come along in years is a pocket project: a 299-seat theater that will add shine to a gritty corner in Brooklyn. Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday unveiled plans for the new home of Theatre for a New Audience, the functional opposite of the elephantine West Side stadium he has been pushing.

    The $38-million building, on the wedge where Flatbush and Lafayette avenues converge, was designed from the inside outward, from the stage to the street. The theater specializes in Shakespeare, and its founding producer, Jeffrey Horowitz, demanded trapdoors beneath the stage through which Hamlet's ghost might pop. He wanted a simple shoebox reminiscent of an Elizabethan courtyard theater. He wanted seating that directors could rearrange.

    Great architects begin by satisfying desires, and Horowitz was working with a pair of brilliant opposites: Frank Gehry, the Los Angeles-based master of baroque flamboyance, who has yet to complete a freestanding building in New York City, and the courtly Hugh Hardy, who has been quietly molding Brooklyn for decades.

    "I am not even going to discuss who did what," Hardy announced. "You may see certain gestures and say, 'Aha! That's what Gehry did,' or 'Aha! That's what Hardy did.' I bet you'll be wrong - but you'll never know."

    Somehow, they elaborated a seductively simple shoebox, clad on three sides with stainless-steel shingles, and on the Flatbush Avenue facade with a great glass scrim floating in front of its frame. New York's first luminous, see-in theaters were built at Lincoln Center a generation ago, but in recent years, as glass has gotten more malleable and clear, architects have been rediscovering the notion that people congregating indoors can be a public spectacle, too.

    Inside, a sinuous, Gehryesque staircase slinks up from the sidewalk level to the orchestra like a set from "All About Eve." You can have your spare Shakespearian box, the architects seem to be saying, but let us ply the people with a sensual curve or two. A canopy in rose-colored steel that snakes above the staff entrance could have been grafted on from any of a dozen other Gehry designs, and strikes the building's one incongruous note.

    The glass wall functions as a window against which passersby can press their noses and develop a yen for the classic arts. In that sense, the Flatbush facade and its nightly pre-show exhibit of live theatergoers will be a live-action billboard for the surrounding Brooklyn Academy of Music Cultural District.

    The rest of the site, now a city-owned parking lot, will be occupied by the Brooklyn Visual and Performing Arts Library, a promised V-shaped marvel designed by Enrique Norten. If both projects materialize, this could be one of the most architecturally playful blocks in New York.

    Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

  10. #10
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    Excellent. Not happy it won't be started until '07, but it's better than nothing. Also, what's up with the Norton library. I can't wait for this to go up. This will be quite a little corner when completed. I love this BAM development. Such an amenity for the city and Brooklyn. The DT area is sure to boom even more when this gets into full swing.

  11. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by billyblancoNYC
    Excellent. Not happy it won't be started until '07, but it's better than nothing. Also, what's up with the Norton library. I can't wait for this to go up. This will be quite a little corner when completed. I love this BAM development. Such an amenity for the city and Brooklyn. The DT area is sure to boom even more when this gets into full swing.
    This is a nice looking box. I can't wait.

    The last I read about the Brooklyn Library it was downsized b/c of lack of money to build the Visual Performing Arts Library. So in this case I would think the design would of changed. The ground breaking for the project has been pushed back from 2005 to 2006.

    You should vist the Center for Architecture. Beginning Feb. 4, an exhibition on the new theatre with models and renderings will be on display to the public at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place in Manhattan. The Brooklyn Library is aslo on exbit at the Center for Architecture until April 16 of 2005.

  12. #12
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    The "gritty corner" the article mentions isn't gritty. It's sparse, but next to a cute little plant nursery.

    I cannae wait for 2007...

  13. #13


    Gehry and Hardy Unveil New Brooklyn Theater

    February 4, 2005

    After years of producing wildly curvaceous buildings, Frank Gehry, FAIA, appears ready to use – at least for a while- straight lines.

    Today Gehry and Hugh Hardy, FAIA, of H3 Hardy Collaboration, unveiled their new $35.8 million Theater for a New Audience in Downtown Brooklyn, a 299-seat flexible theater that will essentially be a box clad in large, stainless steel shingles and angled planes of glass.

    The theater company, a troupe that specializes in Shakespeare and the classics, wanted to utilize the cube-shape to maximize intimacy and, says Hardy, to replicate the courtyards where Elizabethan theater was often performed. He adds that the rectilinear shape- a sharp departure from much of Gehry’s recent work- helped draw the California-based architect to the project.

    “It became a challenge for both of us,” Hardy says. “What do you do to a box to make it interesting?”

    For starters the 58-foot tall building’s front façade will feature a massive curtain wall revealing a brightly-lit, lively interior; its side-placed stainless steel shingles, patterned, will glimmer in the sun; and undulating metal flourishes, also on the sides, will identify administrative spaces.

    “If architecture didn’t contribute curiosity it wouldn’t be worth doing,” adds Hardy, whose team carefully balanced simplicity with attention-grabbing bravura in putting the design together.

    Inside, the theater will contain three levels of seating, able to transform into various configurations, including theater in the round, says Hardy. The theater will also contain a 50-seat rehearsal/performance space, a café, a roof garden, and the administrative offices.

    The design is part of a new Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Cultural District that includes a future performing arts branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, designed by Enrique Norten; a recently-completed renovation of a former State office building into affordable office space, mostly for arts organizations, and a future cultural facility to be determined later (proposals from cultural organizations are due by February 7). Norten and Hardy will collaborate on a 38 foot-wide public space separating their two buildings.

    The Theater will receive $6.2 million in City support through the BAM Local Development Corporation.

    Sam Lubell

  14. #14

    Default Exhibition at the Center for Architecture

    Theater for a New Audience
    Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY

    New On View through April 16: "Collaboration, Community and Culture: Theatre for a New Audience in the BAM Cultural District" Architectural models, renderings and drawings of the Theatre for a New Audience's new facility, designed through a collaboration between Frank Gehry, FAIA, and Hugh Hardy, FAIA; exhibition design by Milton Glaser.

    Contextual information about the BAM Cultural District from the BAM Local Development Corporation is also on view. Materials and graphics designed by Pentagram.
    Last edited by Archit_K; February 5th, 2005 at 01:22 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Center for Architecture

    Hey, check out these pictures of the Theatre for a New Audience model at the AIA yesterday. I recommend you going.
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