The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Cultural District in Fort Greene continues to grow into a destination for the arts with the addition of Leeser Architecture's $40 million expansion and renovation plans for the historic Strand Theater. Built in 1918 for vaudeville acts, the theater has also functioned as a movie palace and bowling alley and will now become a 21st Century, state-of-the-art facility for BRIC Arts Media, a non-profit that presents arts, music, and educational programs for the borough's diverse cultural community, and UrbanGlass, an organization dedicated to glass making and teaching.
Leeser won a bid by the New York City Economic DEvelopment Corporation to complete the renovation, which they broke ground on last October. The project will preserve the landmark’s historic neo-classical facade while bringing the institution into the digital age. BRIC will get a new 6,000 square foot performance space that will allow the Strand Theater to host live performances for the first time in decades, as well as a 2,500 square foot black-box studio, a 3,500 square foot contemporary art gallery, and a 1,000 square foot television studio for its Brooklyn’s public access TV station, BCAT. BRIC, the organization responsible for the supremely popular Celebrate Brooklyn! summer music festival, will also have new classrooms and other support spaces.
UrbanGlass, currently located in Gowanus, will receive 1,700 square feet of gallery and retail space and an 800 square foot walk-in glass workshop for classes. Founded in 1977, UrbanGlass was the first artist-access glass center in the United States, and it has grown to become the largest. The studio serves 350 artists and 900 students every year, so a large, more easily-accessible space is extremely beneficial.
The new Strand Theater will become a destination for both tourists and arts-loving New Yorkers. About $33 million of the $40 million project is paid for by the city, and renovations are expected to be complete in 2013.
all images © Leeser Architecture