- Project Name
- Brooklyn College Leonard and Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts
- City University of New York
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 62,000 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
Construction Manager: Hill International, Inc.,Structural Engineer: Arup,Electrical Engineer: Arup,Plumbing Engineer: Arup,Other: Arup,Civil Engineer: KS Engineers,Audio-visual and Information Technology: Cerami & Associates, Inc.,Lighting Designer: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design,Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
- Certifications & Designations
- LEED Silver
- Project Status
An iconic presence at the intersection of Campus Road and Hillel Place, the new Leonard & Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts serves as a new gateway to Brooklyn College. The 30-foot-high portal, transparent façade and interplay of brick, metal and glass symbolize not only the evolution of the arts at Brooklyn College, but also the transformative relationship between campus and community.
The Center replaces the early 1950’s Gershwin Hall, a solid brick building, that turned its back on the neighborhood. Demolishing this outdated facility provided the architects the opportunity not only to create contemporary, acoustically superb spaces for music and theater, but also to establish a major new entrance to the campus.
The building’s façade is inspired by the traditional use of brick on campus but employed in a contemporary manner. The alternating brick-and-metal panels, combined with a transparent curtainwall, gives an almost playful rhythm to the building’s exterior while providing glimpses to the vibrancy of the activities within. During the evening, the golden color of the interior walls creates a warm glow along the street.
A dramatic, two-story lobby serves as the entrance to the Center and an informal gathering space. The grand stair to the upper level and the balcony offer ample opportunities for students to “see and be seen.” While the programmatic focus of the building is performance, instruction, rehearsal and practice spaces, sitting nooks, overlooks and expansive views support student life, providing a variety of spaces where students and faculty can interact.
The focal point of the Center is a 200-seat multipurpose venue for which the existing stage house of Gershwin Theater was retained. The introduction of variable acoustics, an acoustical shell that can “fly” into place, a stage extension and seating lifts enables this new intimate venue to efficiently transform from a proscenium theater to a classically shaped concert hall. On the second level of the building is a 30-foot-high orchestra rehearsal room that functions as both a performance and a rehearsal space. With a towering window providing views to LaGuardia Library and the campus green, this room is also used for special campus and community events.
Similarly, the theater rehearsal room on the building’s lower level doubles as both a rehearsal space as and a small performance venue, maximizing the use of the room throughout the day and evening. Supporting this is a new, state-of-the art scene shop, affording students the opportunity to learn set making. The remainder of the Center provides a wide range of acoustically appropriate practice and rehearsal spaces for music.
In the exterior space previously formed by Gershwin and Whitman Halls what was once a seldom used, asphalt amphitheater is now a lush courtyard planted with a wide variety of native plants. A circular arc of special paving material is dotted with chairs and seating areas, establishing a destination and informal gathering space for this formerly unused area of the campus.
Working closely with faculty, administrators and facility representatives from both CUNY and the College, the architects were able to create a building that contributes to the life of the campus, transforms the interface between the College and its neighbors and meets the pressing programmatic needs of music and theater.