The roof harvests rainwater and is coated with a high albedo coating to reflect the sun's energy.
EMPAC’s mission is to provide high quality space for innovative digital art to change perceptions about the nature of sound and vision. From the protruding, airship-like theatre floating inside the building to the catwalks to the contrast in materials, the arts center is a rich visual landscape. Inside there are five different performance venues: a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, a black box studio, a white box studio and a dance studio. In addition, the facility houses audio and video editing suites, artists-in-residence studios and the campus radio station.
Built into a steep hillside overlooking the Hudson River, the building is partially below grade and emerges from the ground in an explosion of cross-grained wood and glass. Grimshaw designed the structure in accordance with their environmental management system and includes low energy and sustainable design. The north curtain wall utilizes the largest insulated glass panels as well as glycol-filled mullions used as a heating and condensation-elimination system in winter. The concert hall is clad in sustainably-harvested Western Red Cedar.